Graduated Compression Stockings What Are They?

Thursday, 8 October 2015  |  John

Graduated compression stockings is the full name given to the most common form of compression stockings by doctors. This is because there are several different types of compression stockings, and doctors have to be clear on what exactly they are using.

Why Are They Called Graduated Compression Stockings?

They’re called graduated compression stockings because, naturally, the compression is graduated. The compression is strongest at the ankle (which is the reason the ankle’s circumference is almost always used to size compression stockings) and get weaker as they go up the leg.

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This is also the reason why the strength of compression stockings is classed like it is – for example RAL Class 2 is 23-32 mmHg. mmHg stands for millimetres of Mercury and is a unit of measurement for pressure; 32 mmHg is the strongest amount of compression the stocking gives (at the ankle) and 23 mmHg is the weakest amount of compression it gives (either at the thigh or at the knee, depending on the style).

What Do Graduated Compression Stockings Do?

As you might have guessed, compression stockings apply compression to your leg. The main advantage of this is that it boosts your circulation by stimulating the natural pumping action of the muscles in your leg. And because the compression is graduated from the ankle, it encourages blood to flow up your leg.

What Are Graduated Compression Stockings For?

Because they encourage blood flow to increase and move up the leg, compression stockings are often used to treat venous diseases like varicose veins – where the valves in veins which help blood flow up the leg fail and blood starts to pool in the veins, causing them to swell.  By improving circulation and helping blood flow up the leg, compression stockings can help prevent varicose veins from worsening.

Compression stockings can also be used to treat lymphatic conditions such as lymphoedema, where the body’s lymphatic system stops regulating fluid and tissues swell. The compression garments help to encourage the fluid to move out of the affected limb and move back around the body.

However, graduated compression stockings aren’t just used to treat medical conditions; there are tons of uses outside of medicine. Many people who have to stand for a long time and get tired legs (such as nurses and warehouse workers) wear graduated compression stockings – the increase in circulation helps to relieve the pain and fatigue standing for a long time causes.

Of course, it’s vital to consult with a doctor before using compression stockings for any purpose, as they can tell you what strength is best for you, what size you might need and even if they're right for you

If you’re looking into getting some graduated compression stockings, head on over to Compression Stockings and check out our huge range of products in a variety of different styles, colours and strengths of compression.