Compression Stockings for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Publication Date: 
Wed, 04/03/2013
By: Alere Staff

For patients who have had a blood clot in their leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT), you may feel better with graduated compression stockings or socks. Compression stockings are specially made to help promote circulation in your legs. If you have had DVT, you are at risk for developing long-term pain and swelling, called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). This can occur in about 40% of people with DVT and symptoms can vary.1

In the veins of your leg, blood must flow upward back to the heart. Compression stockings apply a certain amount of pressure near your ankle and then apply gradually less pressure up the leg. This helps to squeeze or push blood back up the leg from the ankle to the thigh to help improve blood flow back to the heart and reduce leg swelling and pain.2

It is recommended that wearing compression stockings should start as soon as possible after developing a DVT. In some cases, compression stockings may be used to help prevent a DVT from occurring. For example, a physician may have a patient wear graduated compression stockings after surgery.

Compression stockings vary in levels of tightness. A prescription is needed from your doctor with the recommended tightness to prevent PTS. Most pharmacies carry multiple brands of compression stockings/socks. Also, consult with your insurance to see if they are covered under your insurance plan.

According to the National Institutes of Health, here are some tips to wearing compression stockings:

  • Put stockings on first thing in the morning
  • Do not pull the stocking up by the top; place in heel first then smooth gradually up your leg
  • After the top of the stocking is in place, smooth out any wrinkles
  • Do not let the stockings bunch up
  • Make sure lotion is dry before putting stockings on your legs
  • Use a little baby powder or corn starch to help slide the stockings up
  • Wash stockings every day with mild soap and water, and let air dry
  • Replace the stockings every 3-6 months so they keep their support

Compression stockings should be worn as long as they continue to make your leg feel better, but the length of time can vary from person to person. Ask your doctor about compression stockings and if they may be helpful for you.

  1. Hirsh J, Hoak J. Management of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. A statement for healthcare professionals. Council on Thrombosis (in consultation with the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology), American Heart Association. Circulation. 1996 Jun 15;93(12):2212-2245.
  2. Clarke MJ, Hopewell S, Juszczak E, Eisinga A, Kjeldstrøm M. Compression stockings for preventing deep vein thrombosis in airline passengers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 2.


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