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Why Should Nurses Wear Compression Socks?

Choosing to wear or not to wear compression socks is an individual choice. For nurses and other healthcare professionals, most of us spend a great deal of our working hours standing on our feet, which can be as long as twelve hours or more in any given shift. Try doing this for three, four, or even five shifts straight; and at the end of a busy week you end up with tired, sore, achy legs, and sometimes swollen ankles. To combat this problem, I as well as many of my colleagues have turned to compression socks. Sometimes called compression hose or stocking, this unique leg wear is designed to apply gentle inward pressure to the ankle and legs, which in turn promotes better blood flow to the heart. The great thing about compression socks is they come in many different styles and colors, they can be worn daily, and are also great to wear on long flights and car rides when traveling.

How do I know if compression socks are right for me?

For the average healthy person, the only way to know if compression socks are right for you is to try them for yourself. For persons with a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease in the lower extremities, or any other ailment affecting blood circulation such as diabetes, varicose veins, or a history of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), it is best to check with your healthcare provider as the pressure from the compression of the socks may cause further restriction of blood flow and oxygen in your lower extremities.

Choosing the right compression socks.

Compression socks come in various sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large; and different pressure levels: mild, moderate, or firm (shown as mmHG, or millimeters of mercury). The higher the mmHG number the higher the compression. Most people only need mild compression, which is 8-15 mmHg, to get relief and minimize sore, achy legs. For first time wears I would highly suggest the least amount of compression until you are comfortable with use. Moderate compression is 15-20mmHg and usually best for pregnant women, and the prevention of varicose and spider veins. Firm compression is typically 20-30 mmHG, and is mostly medically necessary for those suffering from moderate to severe leg edema, or lymphedema which is a condition whereby there is a blockage or inadequate flow of the lymph system that prevents proper fluid drainage in the extremities.

How much does compression socks cost?

The price for compression socks varies depending on the style and brand. They can easily be purchased over the counter from a retail store, medical supply store, drug store, or from an online retailer. Prices can be as low as $10 or as high as $100 for medical grade compression socks. I suggest choosing a quality pair for your daily needs, however, keeping the price under $30 because a higher price in compression socks does not always mean a better quality sock. Plus, if you are wearing them everyday they eventually lose some elasticity, and you will need to replace them approximately every 3 to 6 months in order for them to be most effective.


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