If you think support hose or compression stockings are reserved for pregnant women and old men, think again. Nurses’ legs and feet get some of the worst abuse on the job. Few nurses really WANT to wear support hose, but when varicose veins begin to pop and spider veins reveal themselves then the rush to buy a pair of good compression stockings is on.
What really do support hose do to help save your legs while you’re on your feet for 12 hours in bedside care?
Simplistically speaking compression hose provide graduated tightness on your legs. That tightness actually forces blood flow and fluid flow back upward as opposed to downward. Downward pressure can create varicose and spider veins over time. Ever taken off your shoes or socks and noticed swelling in your ankles right at the sock line? This is edema or fluid build up usually associated with being on your feet for a long while. For nurses edema and poor circulation can cause discomfort, swelling, and even pain. Eventually varicose and spider veins are common. Some varicose veins can become painful.
Are compression hose a solution for ugly varicose veins? Doctors that offer guidance for nurses with leg pain suggest medical compression hose as a first step in prevention for a range of circulatory problems are compounded with each passing week. Nurses may notice swelling and leg pain at any point in their careers, but those most bothered by it are commonly mid-career and actively looking for relief. However, the best advice is: don’t wait to pull on a pair of support hose until it’s too late to prevent circulation damage, or worse. Nurses that start wearing support hose early will way ahead of the game by the time they hit mid-career and their colleagues are in pain.
Choose from full-length hose or knee-highs. In fact knee-high support hose are capable of combating most of the worst of the fluid build-up and pain associated with standing.
For some nurses with really severe varicose veins support hose may offer little relief. In those cases RNs should seek the advice of a physician trained to deal with these circulatory problems.
Nurses have commonly used regular panty hose for additional support and heavy-duty medical-grade compression stockings for even more support. If you feel support hose are in your future as a nurse first ask fellow nursing students, nursing school faculty, and even nurses in the hospital where you’ll have your clinical rotations to recommend any products they’ve used successfully.