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Pressure and relief (Things you need to know about compression socks)

Updated: May 30, 2022

At the end of the day, my couch at home calls for me to sink in and lift up my heavy, tired and achy legs. I have no choice but to give in to my son's bribing of a foot massage. So, when I heard of compression socks, I knew that I had to carry these products if I get a chance to have my own pharmacy.

What are compression socks?

Compression socks (or compression stockings) are specially designed garments that apply controlled pressure to your lower legs. They may differ in compression degree, length, quality material, color, and design but they all help maintain blood flow and reduce comfort and swelling of our legs.

How do they work? They work by putting the greatest degree of compression at the ankle, reducing intensity upwards as it moves up the leg. This is a good thing because it will make sure the blood flows upward toward the heart and not backflow downward to the foot or sideward into the superficial veins. It also reduces the diameter of major veins which also improves the volume, flow, and circulation of the blood.

(Image adapted from Graduated compression stockings, Chung Sim Lim, MBBS PhD and Alun H. Davies, DM, CMAJ. 2014 Jul 8. Access the article

What are the benefits of wearing compression socks?

Your doctor may prescribe compression socks to :

  • help relieve heaviness and tension, pain, and swelling and improve skin changes of the lower leg of patients with chronic venous disease

  • help prevent leg swelling and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for long-distance traveling

  • help reduce occupational leg swelling if your work is connected with long periods of sitting and standing (nurse, pharmacist, hairdresser, waiter, cashier, teacher, etc.)

  • help reduce pain, improve the healing and reduce the recurrence of venous leg ulcer

  • help reduce side effects such as pain, edema, bruising, and risk of clot formation after vein interventions such as sclerotherapy (injection of a special chemical into varicose or spider vein)

  • help reduce pain and swelling and allow instant mobilization in acute DVT

  • help reduce further growth of the clot, in addition to anticoagulation, in acute DVT

  • help manage superficial vein thrombosis

  • help manage lymphedema which is caused by a build-up of lymphatic fluid when the lymphatic system is either faulty, damaged, and cannot function as normal

  • help relieve symptoms of leg problems such as swelling, tiredness and pain in pregnant women

Who should not wear compression socks?

Compression socks are not for you if you have:

  • suspected, proven, or history of peripheral arterial disease

  • sensory impairment, often caused by peripheral neuropathy

  • allergy or skin sensitivity to stocking material

  • local skin or soft-tissue condition, including a recent skin graft, fragile “tissue paper” skin, gangrene, oozing dermatitis, and severe cellulitis

  • extreme deformity of the leg or unusual leg shape or size which will prevent you from getting a correct fit

How do you put on compression stockings?

  • Use donning gloves for the best possible grip without tearing or damaging your compression socks.

  • Sit in a chair with a back to give you something to lean against as you put them on.

  • Insert your hand and grab the inside of the stocking at the top of the heel pocket

  • Turn the socks inside out while holding the heel. Step into the foot and place the heel of the stocking just short of the heel.

  • Gradually pull the stocking upward by returning the stocking to a right-side-out position piece by piece.

  • Distribute the stocking evenly by massaging with both hands until the stocking fits without forming creases.

Are compression socks covered under my drug plan?

Compression stockings and garments are included in the benefits provided through Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) for Albertans who require assistance because of a long-term disability, chronic illness, or terminal illness. A clinical assessment by a health care professional is required to be eligible under this program. For more information, please refer to this

NIHB, Veteran Affairs, and other drug plans from work may cover compression garments with a prescription from your doctor. A compression degree of at least 20mmHg is often one of the criteria for eligibility.

Now I'd like to hear from you. Why are interested in compression stockings? I hope this information was helpful. Please leave a comment below!


Graduated compression stockings, Chung Sim Lim, MBBS PhD and Alun H. Davies, DM, CMAJ. 2014 Jul 8 (from

Indications for medical compression stockings in venous and lymphatic disorders: An evidence-based consensus statement, Eberhard Rabe, Hugo Partsch, Juerg Hafner,

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