Elasticized stockings are specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of, and guard against further progression of, venous disorders such as edema, phlebitis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The tighter elastic in these stockings compresses the leg, helping to reduce the diameter of distended veins, improves venous valve function, stimulates blood flow velocity, and helps relieve heavy and aching legs.
The elasticity of the stockings increases with compression to better accommodate different types of leg sizes and shape. They are also available with features such as grips to help prevent slippage, open or closed toes to accommodate painful, arthritic, or deformed toes, and are offered in fitted or custom (more expensive) formats. These stockings can range from knee-to-thigh high, although low-compression options such as TED stockings (thromboembolic deterrent) are more appropriate for bed rest patients due to their ability to be easily removed during ambulation.
Athletes, such as swimmers, often wear these types of socks to improve their performance and speed up recovery from exercise or competition. Pregnant women are often encouraged to wear these socks to minimize swelling in the ankles, feet and legs. They are also helpful for individuals confined to a wheelchair or a bed, such as those with spinal cord injuries or severe arthritis. They can also be used by people who sit for long periods of time, such as pilots or office workers. The best way to get the most benefit from these stockings is to wear them every day, especially in the morning and to replace them regularly to ensure they are still providing adequate compression.