If you've recently been diagnosed with a vein issue or venous disease, your doctor might have recommended compression stockings as an initial treatment plan. Compression stockings are garments which apply gentle pressure to your legs to improve blood flow and circulation. They can help prevent blood clots after surgery, and they can aid in the healing of foot and leg ulcers. Doctors prescribe compression garments for vein conditions such as varicose veins, spider veins, chronic vein insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, phlebitis or lymphedema. Your doctor may have prescribed compression stockings because you are experiencing swelling (edema), achiness, soreness, or pain in your feet or legs as a result of one of these venous conditions.
These stockings take some time and finesse to put on properly. Some people have difficulty learning to put on their compression stockings, but with practice and the right tips, you can learn to put on your compression stockings like a pro.
Putting on compression stockings
- Put your compression stockings on first thing in the morning, when your legs are the least swollen.
- Make sure you are sitting comfortably, with your back supported, before you begin to put on your stockings.
- Putting on compression stockings looks somewhat similar to putting on regular pantyhose. Start by putting your hand into it until you grasp the toe of the stocking.
- Continue to hold onto the toe of the stocking, pull it inside out, while continuing to hold onto the toe. You will begin putting on the stocking by inserting your toes into the foot of the stocking.
- Put your toe into the foot of the stocking, then gently roll the stocking over your foot, heel and up your leg.
- Continue to roll, pull and smooth the garment up your calf, knee, and all the way up the thigh.
- If the stocking becomes twisted or tangled, remove the stocking and try again.
- Tug the stocking from the foot, heel and upward, never from the top of the stocking. As with a regular pair of pantyhose, pulling from the top of the stockings may cause you to rip or damage the garment.
Creating a routine that will stick
Make wearing your compression stockings part of your everyday routine — this makes them most effective and will make you most comfortable. It's also helpful to keep them by your bed. This will help you put them on first thing in the morning. And washing your compression garments before you wear them will make them more flexible, softer and easier to handle. If you can afford it, buy a spare pair. It is most convenient to have one pair to wash, one pair to wear.
Special considerations to be made
You may have special considerations, which make it difficult to put on your compression garments. Delicate skin, back or leg problems, or other handicaps may hinder your ability to put on the stockings. There are aids available to help your with your daily task. A silk “slip sock” can help slide toeless stockings over your foot. A “foot butler” can help keep the stocking open while you insert your foot and leg inside. Gloves with rubber tips can help you grasp the stockings if the material slips out of your hands while you try to put them on. Talk to your doctor for additional products, tips or recommendations for putting on your compression garments effectively. Call your doctor right away if you experience tingling, numbness, or skin color changes when you wear your compression stockings.
Over time, you will learn how to put on your compression stockings more easily, and wearing compression stockings should provide support and relief for your aching legs and feet.