For many things in life, there might be several different ways to achieve your desired outcome. When it comes to getting the most out of your compression stockings though, there’s really only one way to go about it: wear them correctly.
According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Nursing, compression stockings were used incorrectly in 29 percent of patients, and 26 percent of patients were wearing the wrong size. If nurses can’t even get this right in a professional setting, how is it expected that you do it at home? After all, circulation-promoting stockings aren’t just for patients in the hospital – they’re also for perfectly healthy people that want to maintain the vitality of their legs and feet. Even for a healthy person like you, wearing these stockings wrong, likely means your money down the drain.
Researchers at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas studied 142 post-operative patients. The sample included 119 women, and 23 men (the mean age of which was 57). Most of the patients had gynecology-related surgery; while 41 percent of them were recovering from knee, hip, ankle, or foot surgery. The remaining 6 percent had had abdominal, back, shoulder, or plastic surgery.
A few other eligibility requirements aside, most relevantly, the patients must have been given physician’s orders for graduated compression stockings, have the stockings in place at the time of the study, and be in stable condition.
Out of the 142 patients, 37 percent were donned with thigh-length stockings, and 105 with knee-length.
The researchers assessed patients’ skin, measured their legs, and figured out whether there were any problems with the use of the stockings. Subsequently, they compared the leg measurements to the manufacturer’s sizing chart, to discover if the correct-size stockings had been applied. Additionally, researchers asked patients to rate their comfort of the stockings and to describe what they’re used for.
The study seems to show that there are problems with use and size of thigh-length stockings, and these issues seem to be more common in overweight patients. More patients who had thigh-length stockings found them more comfortable than those with knee-highs, and 20 percent of patients did not know exactly why they were wearing them in the first place – thus, patients not wearing them correctly.
“Problems with the use and sizing of graduated compression stockings are common throughout the country and this study is one of the first to systematically analyze the problems and recommend ways to improve practice,” said Elizabeth H. Winslow, PhD, RN, FAAN, Research Consultant on the study.
Difference Between Support Stockings and Graduated Compression Stockings
It’s important to note that support stockings and graduated compression stockings, although often used interchangably, aren’t technically synonymous terms. The former is typically used by healthy patients; while the latter, for those recovering from surgery or for those who have venous issues.
According to an article in Science Daily, “(graduated compression stockings) they were developed based on research showing the optimal amount of graded compression for promoting blood flow and reducing the risk of thrombosis. When fitted and used properly, they increase blood flow velocity, reduce the risk of venous wall dilation and intimal tear, improve venous valve function and may reduce coagulability, all of which lead to reduced risk of venous thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in the vein.”
So How Should One Wear These Stockings, Exactly?
Whether you’re dealing with true graduated compression medical stockings, or some lower level support stockings simply to maintain your health, the key to their effectiveness will always be to wear them correctly. If you’re in the hospital, post-operation, and are asked to wear compression stockings, double-check with the nurse to ensure that they have the right size for you. Likewise, ask the right way to put them on, and how long exactly you’re supposed to wear them.
When it comes to support hosiery that you might be purchasing online – like for instance, Jobst Men’s Moderate Support Closed Toe Thigh Highs, be sure to closely read the instructions on the measuring guide, and don’t be hesitate to ask your doctor, if you’ve indeed chosen the right compression level.