Compression vs Containment

Sheer stocking show thruWe are often asked if a sheer stocking provides the same compression as a heavier surgical weight stocking.  And when one thinks about it, how does a fine sheer fabric give the same amount of support as a much thicker, opaque fabric?  This question can be answered by explaining the difference between compression and containment.

Compression is the force pushing in on an object.  With compression stockings, this object is your leg.  If you wrap a fine thread and a thick rope around your leg, and pull on the ends with the same amount of force, you will be applying the same amount of compression to the area under the thread and the rope.   But what happens if your leg swells and starts pushing back against the thread and the rope?   This is when containment comes into play.  The thick rope will do a much better job of containing the swelling than the thin thread.

Now let’s examine the two main reasons people wear compression stockings.  The first is venous insufficiency.  This is when the valves in your veins that keep the blood from flowing south, don’t work properly.  Blood pools in the veins and you get varicose veins.  Compressing the leg helps the valves work more efficiently.   There isn’t a lot of force pushing back, so the amount of containment the fabric provides isn’t as important.

The second reason people wear compression stockings is to treat edema or swelling.  Excess bodily fluids that would normally be removed by the venous or lymphatic system accumulate in the tissue, causing it to swell.  Edema can be caused by many conditions and medications.   Here both compression and containment are very important in controlling and reducing the swelling.

The amount of compression and/or containment you need will depend on the condition being treated and the severity.  Talk to your doctor.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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