Support stockings – compression garments? What is the difference?

Why do I need to wear support stockings?

Support stockings – compression garments? What is the difference?

Support stockings are not compression garments

You will often hear medical compression stockings incorrectly called "support stockings". But we must distinguish clearly between these two terms.

Healthy pressure on the leg: medical compression garments

Medical compression garments are medical devices that the doctor can prescribe if there is a need, if the patient has the right indication or if they think it is appropriate to do so. Patients are measured to select the correct size or, where necessary, order made-to-measure garments. By contrast, support stockings are only suitable for people without any venous problems.

The veins in the legs ensure the return flow of blood back to the heart. The venous valves in the veins function like non-return valves, which only allow the blood to flow in one direction, namely in the direction of the heart, and thus prevent blood pooling in the legs. A lack of exercise and too much standing or sitting for many hours of the day places considerable pressure on the venous system.

If the calf's muscle pump no longer adequately supports the return transport of the blood, the veins widen and the venous valves no longer close properly, resulting in tired and heavy legs. Swelling of the legs and socks or shoes cutting into the skin are a sign of this. This also increases the risk of spider veins, varicose veins or leg ulcers developing at a later date.

This is where medical compression stockings exert their full effect. The compression is defined by a particular compression class. The specific pressure gradient decreases from the ankle up towards the heart. This reduces the diameter of the veins in the legs enabling the venous valves to close again, allowing the blood to flow back to the heart more efficiently. If you have been diagnosed with a venous disorder, you absolutely must wear medical compression garments prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor or clinician measures the circumferences of your legs at various points to make sure that the compression garment is the right size. This exact fit is achieved either with a standard, off-the-shelf garment or, if necessary, with an individually created made-to-measure stocking.

Why is a support stocking not a medical compression stocking?

As a rule, support stockings do not have a controlled pressure gradient. This can lead to the situation in which blood still pools in the legs and venous disease still develops or the symptoms are not relieved.

Support stockings have no controlled pressure gradient along the leg

Support stocking sizes are normally determined by the shoe size. Since support stockings are not prescribable, they are only suitable for people who have not had any previous venous problems. They have absolutely no place in clinical medicine!

Medical compression garments from medi

One very special feature of medical compression stockings from medi is that they don't look like medical stockings. They are as sheer as nylons and bang up-to-date thanks to a large selection of standard and trend colours for every fashion season. Furthermore, there is an attractive selection of topbands available for thigh-length stockings.

There are medical compression socks for men too (e.g. mediven for men), which are visually indistinguishable from conventional men's knee socks. For the user, this means medical efficacy combined with fashionable standards and the highest comfort in wear. Compression garments from medi fit perfectly and do not slip or pinch. Thanks to the Clima Comfort technology, hot sweaty legs are a thing of the past. Clima Comfort quickly wicks away any moisture to the outside of the garment. Thus there is no reason for not wearing a medi compression garment during the summer as well.

Background information

90 percent of the adult population have changes in their leg veins. For some, the changes have progressed so far that they urgently need treatment. However, only 23% of these are receiving medical treatment. This is not only at the cost of the individual's health, but it also places a burden on the public health system as a whole: 4.2 billion euros could be saved every year, if all those affected were properly treated (see Bonn Vein Study 2003 and Eurocom Study 2004).

Diagnosis & treatment

Venous diseases

Various forms of venous disease

Venous diseases

The human body


How do our veins work?