Compression stockings, also referred to as compression hoses or compression socks are specialty stockings designed to promote circulation and increase blood flow through your legs and feet. They work in a gradient fashion - the most pressure is concentrated around the ankle and the least around the leg. The amount of pressure gradually decreases as the compression moves the flow of blood upward from the ankle to the leg and then back towards the heart. There are a variety of compression ratios available to support your legs and feet depending on the severity of your problem. They also come in different styles including knee-highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, maternity pantyhose and travel socks (commonly recommended for use on flights).
The stockings may seem the same as a tensor bandage, but they are not. People commonly use tensor bandages to alleviate swelling or leg pain, however, unlike compression stockings which help to increase blood circulation, tensor bandages can have the opposite effect, thus worsening the problem and preventing proper blood flow.
Compression stockings can help in the treatment of varicose veins and reduce the blood pooling that occurs in spider veins. Sometimes wearing compression stockings may not entirely get rid of varicose or spider veins, however it can help alleviate or prevent symptoms such as aching, swelling and heaviness which cause these veins to worsen. In addition, wearing compression stockings can be effective in treating other problems such as leg pains, leg cramps, swelling/edema and prevent the risk of developing vein thrombosis or blood clotting.