"Compression socks or stockings can be found on the legs of a wide swath of the population, from pilots, flight attendants, runners, and nurses to pregnant women, people recovering from surgery, and people otherwise at risk for blood clots in their legs. Just as varied as the people wearing them are the stockings’ materials and prices, with a pair selling anywhere from $10 to well over $100. Outside of medical uses, can the average person benefit from wearing compression stockings? Are there risks to wearing them? What do the pressure ratings on the packages mean? Here, a quick guide to this sometimes confusing category of products.
Who should wear compression stockings?
The clearest benefit is for people with certain leg problems or at risk for blood clots in the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Many factors can increase the risk of these clots, including prolonged bed rest (such as after surgery), sitting for long periods (such as on a plane), use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, family history of DVT, inflammatory bowel disease, and certain genetic clotting disorders. Compression stockings are also sometimes used in people who have an acute DVT, to prevent a group of symptoms known as post-thrombotic syndrome that includes leg pain and swelling. But the American College of Chest Physicians says there’s insufficient evidence to support using the stockings for this purpose."
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