Why Should I Use Compression Garments? How do they work?

Compression garments, commonly socks or stockings, help improve blood flow in your legs. Compression garments also come as sleeves, for swelling in the arm. Compression socks and sleeves will function on a graduated compression: They will be tightest around the ankle (or wrist) and become looser as they get closer to the trunk of your body. This is why many garments are rated on a scale, such as 15-20mmHg or 20-30mmHg.

Compression socks will help with:

  • Aching and heavy feeling in legs and feet; such as after a long day at work or as a result of vein health issues

  • Any general swelling in the limbs

  • Spider veins or Varicose veins

  • Preventing or managing blood clots, especially after surgery or injury when you are less active

What Are the Different Compressions?

There are several different levels of compression garments. 

When your doctor talk about Anti-Embolism or TED socks, they're talking about a very specific compression strength, usually 18mmHg. This compression is commonly used in the hospital for bedbound patients, to keep blood flowing throughout their stay. Outside of a hospital setting, 15-20mmHg is a comparable compression and will do the same job.

8-10mmHg compression is comparable to support stockings, and while this strength may be found in drug stores and pharmacies, not many medical equipment stores like Freedom Medical will stock them, instead favoring the stronger 15-20s.

15-20mmHg compression garments can be called either light or moderate compression, depending on the store and manufacturer. This type of sock is a great starting place for anyone thinking about compression therapy, as they are not difficult to put on and are easily worn. It is also a popular compression with flight attendants, teachers, nurses, and other professions who need to stand all day and may experience soreness and swelling in the foot. 

20-30mmHg compression is twice as strong as 15-20s, and while it may be sold over the counter without a prescription, it is usually a good idea to consult with your doctor about using these socks. If you find that 15-20mmHg socks are not as strong as you'd like, or are not doing their job well enough, 20-30s may be a better compression for your needs. They may require some technique to get them on: please refer to our "Donning Tutorial" page to see our recommended technique. 

30-40mmHg and 40-50mmHg are incredibly tight compression garments, and in the state of Georgia, it is required to present a prescription written by your doctor in order to purchase them. Freedom Medical stocks 30-40mmHg knee high and thigh high compression socks in our showroom, and is happy to order 40-50s for you with the requisite prescription.