Graduated compression stockings are an integral part of the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (reflux) and lymphedema. They are also important in the treatment of and prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The most commonly prescribed stockings for venous insufficiency are 20-30 mmHg, knee high or thigh high. This nomenclature means the stockings create a pressure of 30 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) at the ankle and gradually reduce pressure to 20 mmHg at the top of the stocking. For lymphedema, and severe cases of venous insufficiency, 30-40 mmHg stockings are prescribed.
Compression stocking counteract the abnormal venous pressure in the legs of patients with venous insufficiency. They typically are put on in the morning, and worn all day until bedtime. They help relieve the symptoms of venous insufficiency, and can help reduce swelling. Compression stocking are a temporary treatment, as they do not cure the underlying problem of leaking valves in the veins. Definitive treatment such as radiofrequency ablation, also known as radiofrequency closure, or endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), also known as endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), ambulatory micro-phlebectomy, and sclerotherapy permanently cure venous reflux disease. Compression stocking are worn for 1 to seven days after definitive treatment.
After definitive treatment is complete, compression stockings are usually not necessary.