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Compression Stockings: How to Use Them

Introduction

Specially fitted compression stockings are tight at the feet with a gradually looser fit on the leg. Because there are different types, it's best to use the kind that your doctor recommends and that will work best for you.

Compression stockings:

  • Help improve blood flow.
  • Help keep fluid from pooling in the legs.
  • May help prevent blood clots from forming in deep leg veins.
  • Help relieve symptoms and prevent problems caused by things like varicose veins, skin ulcers, and deep vein thrombosis.
  • Will help the most if you wear them every day while you're awake, especially while you're on your feet.

How To

Compression stockings can be a part of your daily routine. If they fit right, they should be snug but comfortable.

It's best to wear them all the time, unless you are bathing or sleeping. Plan on replacing your stockings every 4 to 6 months.

At first, putting on a pair of compression stockings can be tricky. But with some practice, you'll find what works for you. Here are some tips:

Before you put them on

  • Hand wash new stockings after you buy them. It will make them more flexible and easier to put on. Consider buying a second pair, if you can afford it. That way, you'll have a clean pair to wear while you wash the other.
  • Put a dressing on any open wound before putting on the compression stockings.
  • Keep your stockings by your bed, so you can put them on when you first get up.

To put them on

  • Do it early in the morning, when you have the least swelling in your legs.
  • Sit in a chair with a back. This gives you something to lean against as you put on the stockings.
  • Hold the top of the stocking with one hand. Then with your other hand, reach inside the stocking and push your arm all the way in until you reach the end and can grab the toe.
  • When you have a firm grip on the toe, pull your hand back up through the stocking, turning it inside out, but leaving the tips of your fingers in the toe of the stocking.
  • Put your toes into the toe of the stocking, and gently roll and slide it back over your heel. Then use your finger tips or palms to slowly roll and slide the stocking all the way up your leg.
  • Be careful not to grab and pull at the top of the stocking, because that can cause it to rip or tear.

If you have trouble

  • Wear rubber gloves to help you grip the fabric, if you need to.
  • Try a silk "slip sock" if you use toeless stockings. It helps the stocking slide over your foot, and then pulls off through the toe after the stocking is on. You can get one at a medical supply store.
  • Try a "stocking butler." It's a metal device that holds the stocking open while you step into it. Try one before you buy one, though. They can be hard to use.
  • Talk to your doctor or the certified fitter at your medical supply store, especially if you have a disability that makes it hard to put the stockings on.
  • Call your doctor if your toes get numb or painful or turn dark while you are wearing compression stockings.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Margaret Doucette, DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine
Last Revised August 9, 2013

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