QUESTION

Because of swelling in my legs, I‘m supposed to wear compression stockings every day. I have the hardest time putting them on. Any tips?

ANSWER

Yes, there are some easy steps that will help. Compression stockings need to fit snugly in order to provide the pressure needed to promote blood flow and prevent lower-leg swelling. They are often used to treat chronic venous disease (such as varicose veins) and edema. That said, make sure that your pair is not too tight–your doctor or physical therapist can measure your legs to be sure you have the right fit. Some tricks to help you get them on… • While seated, apply cornstarch or talcum powder to your feet to remove moisture. (But don’t stand up on powdered feet, which can increase your risk of falling!) • Wear dishwashing gloves to help you grip the stocking more easily. • When pulling up, grip from the base of the stocking and roll the material up gradually. • If wearing open-toe stockings: Find a long, thin plastic bag (like the kind your newspaper comes in). Twist one end and tuck it between your big toe and second toe, and smooth the rest of the bag up the back of your leg. Slip the sock over the foot. The bag will help the sock slide up, and you can gently pull it out once the sock is on. • Consider purchasing a stocking donner (sometimes called a “stocking butler”) or other assistive device to help you get the stocking on your leg. You can buy one online or at a medical-supply store. Most are less than $25. •If your doctor gives the OK, consider zippered compression stockings. Keep in mind: There are different kinds of compression stockings. The nonmedical support hose that you buy in the drugstore are generally fine if your legs swell because you stand all day or for a mild case of varicose veins that doesn’t cause pain. For painful varicose veins or after surgery, you will most likely need a prescription pair that provides more pressure. Unlike the drugstore variety, these prescription, or medical, stockings provide gradient compression, with more pressure around the ankle and decreased pressure toward the top. Styles vary, too. You can buy a pair that extends to the knee or the thigh or that fits like pantyhose. Some styles have an open-toe. If you need prescription compression stockings, ask your doctor which type is preferable for your needs.