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Which Compression Level is Right for You?

Dec - 01 - 2021 Northside Medical Supply

Running with compression socks onCompression socks have been known to carry such benefits as reducing the risk of developing DVTs, preventing varicose veins, and even improving athletic performance. Whether you are new to selecting compression wear or you have always wondered if you are purchasing the right amount of compression for your health and activities, this guide can help you purchase the items that are right for you.

What is mmHg?
Millimeters of mercury or mmHG is used to measure pressure. This includes taking your blood pressure or checking the level of pressure in your compression garments. In compression socks, you will find anywhere from 8-15 mmHg to 40-50 mmHg available on the market. Here’s what that means to you.

The Lowest Levels of Compression?
If you occasionally experience swelling, pain or achy legs, the lowest level of compression while you work out or stay seated for extended periods of time may be the right level for you. These socks will be labeled as 8-15 mmHg, and they do not require a prescription to purchase them. Use them for taking a run or when you are traveling for preventing minor inflammation and reducing the risk of pain or swelling.

For those who are temporarily experiencing pain or swelling as well as those who have minor health conditions where a physician has recommended compression socks, the 15-20 mmHg socks may be the right amount of pressure for you. This compression level is helpful for mild to moderate medical issues like preventing varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVTs), helping with mild edema, providing relief for shin splints when running, or reducing the risk of mild symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) from occurring. Those suffering from shin splints, achy arches, or swelling due to taxing leg and foot muscles with a more intense workout routine might try this level of compression first before moving up to the next degree of pressure.

Moderate Compression
If the mild compression is not enough to stop the pain, your physician may recommend the 20-30 mmHg socks for a moderate level of compression. These socks are often referred to as “Class 1” or “Firm”, and they are the most commonly prescribed level of compression by doctors. Use the 20-30 mmHg socks to help with the previously mentioned conditions or concerns plus moderate symptoms of such conditions as lymphedema, May-Thurner syndrome (MTS), and orthostatic hypotension. Additionally, this level is often preferred for compression garments to aid with preventing blood clots for patients who are at a high risk of developing them following a surgical procedure.

High Levels of Compression
When patients present more serious medical symptoms, doctors may prescribe 30-40 mmHg of compression. Also called “Class II”, the 30-40 mmHg socks are frequently prescribed when patients demonstrate a higher degree of pain, aching, or swelling. These socks will feel very tight compared to the other levels of compression.

Speaking of tight, the 40-50 mmHg or “Class III” level of compression socks is prescribed for the most severe symptoms. They should only be used with a doctor’s recommendation to avoid complications from wearing compression garments with too much pressure. Medical issues such as paresthesia can occur by using the wrong amount of pressure. Paresthesia could result in pain, numbness, or a tingly sensation in your legs and feet. If you experience pain, numbness, or “pins and needles” in your extremities, your compression garment could be too much pressure for your needs.

How to Know if Your Socks are the Right Size
There are several ways to tell if your socks are the wrong size. For instance, you should be able to put on your socks with a snug fit. However, if you cannot put on your socks or sleeves because they are too tight, you likely have the wrong size or level of compression. Socks that are too large may bunch or fail to help reduce swelling or pain. Try reducing the size before increasing your level of compression. Also, if your socks slide or roll down, they may be too large or stretched out. Over time, the socks or sleeves will eventually stretch and the compression will lessen. You should replace your socks every five to six months.

How to Get Fitted for Your Compression Garments
If you are looking for compression garments in the Roswell, Georgia area, we carry the most popular brands like Sigvaris in stock at Northside Medical Supply. Moreover, we love to help customers find the right fit and level of compression for their medical needs. Come inside our store and ask our friendly and knowledgeable team members about which item(s), sizes, and level of compression is best for you.