Ted Hose and Graduated Compression: Clearing the Confusion

Ken Langworthy RVT

If you have uncomfortable varicose veins, spider veins or one of several forms of venous insufficiency, your doctor may prescribe graduated medical compression stockings. You may immediately think the doctor is talking about TED hose, but they are not. Compression stockings will help support your venous circulation. Although compression is not a cure, compression stockings will alleviate many of your symptoms and slow the progression of your condition.

While investigating your compression options, you may notice that you are offered compression stockings and TED hose. Some doctors mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. It’s crucial to know the difference between the two products; they are not the same.

TED Hose When You are Bedridden

While compression stockings are designed to be worn as you go about your daily activities, TED hose are not. TED hose are not graduated. They were invented to prevent Thromboembolic Disease. That means that TED hose are intended to avoid blood clots from breaking loose and obstructing other blood vessels. It is quite essential that you know that TED hose are only prescribed to those who are non-ambulatory, not able to be up and moving on their own.

If you are confined to your bed, your blood will tend to pool in your calves. TED hose apply pressure to the feet and lower part of your leg, with most of the load directly on your calf muscles. This is to help prevent blood clots caused by the reduced circulation associated with those who are bedridden. Like medical graduated compression, TED hose help support the amount of blood flowing back to your heart. TED hose are  commonly prescribed for the following conditions or situations:

  • You are confined to bed during illness
  • Your doctor has prescribed bed-rest
  • You are limited to bed after surgery

The differences between compression stockings and TED hose are pretty clear, but many people, even some doctors, use the terms interchangeably. Compression stockings are worn when you are active. Ted hose are typically only worn by the bedridden.

Whether prescribing compression stockings or TED hose, your doctor will prescribe the style and compression level to best suit your needs. Knee high and thigh high styles are the most-often prescribed.

Graduated Compression Stockings When You are Active

Graduated compression stockings help your body defy the effects of gravity. They work with your circulatory system to reduce swelling and keep your blood moving, rather than pooling in your legs. The compression is firmest around your ankle and decreases gradually as the stocking tapers up to the opening.  Compression stockings are typically prescribed to treat the following conditions:

  • Relieving the discomfort of spider veins
  • Reducing the pain of varicose veins
  • Preventing DVT during prolonged travel
  • Reducing edema (swelling) in the legs
  • Assisting the healing process after vein treatment
  • Reducing the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension (decreased standing blood pressure)
  • Treating skin ulcers caused by circulation issues

While your healthcare provider will recommend the style, compression level and wear schedule, in most cases compression stockings are worn daily, the entire time you are awake. Compression is it’s most effective when they are put on immediately after waking before gravity causes blood pooling or swelling. Graduated medical compression is not meant to be worn while you are asleep.

For more information about vein disease and treatment options for varicose veins, visit our vein blog. We can help you take control of the health of your veins, and even help you find a vein doctor in your area.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Susanne Woloson on 5-01-2020.

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