Controlling Swelling with Compression Stockings

What are compression stockings?

Compression stockings are made to help control swelling in the feet, ankles and lower legs. Benefits of compression stockings include helping to squeeze these areas to prevent the buildup of fluid in the tissue. This buildup of fluid can be very painful. There are many different levels of compression in these stockings. Your doctor will tell you which one is best for you.

Take your stockings off right away and call your wound center or go to the emergency room if you have any of these things happen:

  • Pain in your legs or feet
  • Your legs or feet feel numb
  • Tingling in your legs or feet
  • The color or temperature of your toes changes
  • You get a new wound

Illustration of increasing level of compression down leg

How to use your compression stockings

Stockings are put on as soon as you wake up and before you get out of bed. These stockings are worn all day to keep your legs from swelling. Take them off before you go to bed or before you take a bath or shower. You will have to take a bath or shower at night right before you go to bed. It is best if you sleep with your feet above the level of your heart to keep your legs from swelling while you are sleeping. If you do these things, you will keep your legs from swelling all day long.

How do you care for your compression stockings?

Your stockings will come with directions for how to wash and dry them. These directions will help your stockings last longer. You will need new stockings every 3 to 6 months.

How do you get your compression stocking on?

Stockings must be put on by working them slowly over the heel, then up the leg. Rubber kitchen gloves can be worn to help you grip better. Try not to have wrinkles in your stockings. This can hurt your skin. You may need a special piece of equipment to help get them on and off.

One way to apply your stockings:

  1. Turn your stocking inside out by putting your hand inside the foot, and grab the heel and pull the stocking inside out.
  2. Slide your foot into the stocking until your toe and heel are in place.
  3. Pull the top of the stocking up over your ankle and calf until it is in place.

In order to keep you stockings from getting holes or runs in them, never pull or tug on them. Take off any jewelry that may snag them when you are putting them on.

Sheffield, P., Smith, A, & Fife, C. (Eds.) (2004). Wound care practice. Flagstaff Best.
Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Soceity. (2005). Guidelines for management of wounds in patients with lower-extremity venous disease. Glenview, IL WOCN