TED Hose vs Compression Stockings: What’s The Difference?

TED Hose vs Compression Stockings

You've been told you need to wear compression stockings, but you have heard of both TED hose and compression stockings. You're confused. What's the difference? Both terms are often used interchangeably. However there is a difference and each is appropriate in different circumstances. In this guide we explore TED hose vs compression stockings.

Note: Always seek the advice of a medical professional before wearing a compression garment for the first time. The information in this post is general, and all personal situations vary.​

TED Compression Hose

Thromboembolism deterrent hose, also known as anti-embolism stockings and TED compression socks, are compression garments often prescribed to bedridden and immobile patients. As the name suggests, their purpose is to prevent venous thromboembolism during periods of inactivity, most often post-surgery. The most common and well-known condition they are used to prevent is deep vein thrombosis also known as DVT, which is much more likely to occur in immobile people.

​TED hose are usually white which makes them easy to differentiate from other styles of compression stockings. They also often have a hole in the toe area which makes it easier for medical staff to inspect the patient. They come in both knee and thigh length varieties, and will generally only last for up to 3 weeks.

How Do TED Hose Work?

Anti-embolism stockings feature graduated compression which is usually within the range of 8-18 mmHg. The compression is tightest at the ankle or calf and decreases in strength up the leg. Their purpose is to promote the circulation of blood in and around the legs. By having decreasing compression strength up the leg, blood is encouraged to flow towards the heart.

​A single pair will be good for up to 3 weeks and so if the period of immobility last beyond this, the TED hose must be replaced. If the patient is able to increase their activity and is no longer bedridden, however still requires a boost in circulation through compression, they will need to switch to graduated compression socks.

Who Should Wear Anti-Embolism Stockings?

TED hose are often prescribed to patients who are unable to move for extended periods.The most common example is for those recovering from surgery, who are confined to bed. By being immobile for an extended time, these people have poor blood circulation especially in the legs. This puts them at a much higher risk of developing venous thromboembolism, for example DVT. TED compression socks are able to increase blood circulation during this period of inactivity to reduce any risk.

TED compression stockings are only for non-ambulatory patients, that is those who spend 95% of their time immobile. They are not intended for those who are able to stand and move around. They can be difficult to put on and many patients will need assistance. As the patients wearing TED hose compression socks are generally hospitalized, there will be medical staff to assist.

If you are bedridden at home and believe that you require TED hose to increase your blood circulation, it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of a medical professional before wearing them. In some cases they can be detrimental to your health and so caution is advised.

Buying TED Compression Socks

There are many inexpensive varieties available online, for example from Amazon. Keep in mind, if you are purchasing TED compression socks for home use you will need to replace each pair after a couple of weeks. In addition, if your TED hose compression socks require washing, it is recommended that you have a second pair as a backup to provide continuity of compression while you wash the dirty hose.

Graduated Compression Stockings

Graduated compression stockings, also known as compression socks or support socks, have a much wider and general application. Unlike TED compression stockings which are only appropriate for non-ambulatory patients, compression stockings are for those who are active and not confined to bed. Similar to TED hose they use compression to promote an increased circulation of blood.

The compression is graduated which means it has decreasing strength upwards. By being tightest at the ankle and having decreasing compression strength up the leg, the blood is effectively guided away from the feet and towards the heart. This in turn allows for fresh oxygenated blood to flow from the heart into the legs. In this way, graduated compression socks aid in the pumping of blood throughout the feet and legs.

Types of Compression Stockings

Graduated compression socks come in a range of compression strengths, from as little as 8-15 mmHg to 30-40mmHg. The most common compression strengths are 15-20 mmHg and 20-30mmHg. Unlike TED compression socks which are generally for bedridden patients, graduated compression socks are worn by those who spend most of their time either sitting or standing. This means that more compression is required to fight against gravity and to guide the blood towards the heart.

Compression socks and stockings last much longer than anti-embolism stockings and come in a large variety of types. They generally come as either knee or thigh length, however can also be purchased as ankle length and full length. They can be purchased in a huge variety colors and styles.

The length and strength of compression required for an individual will vary according to the reason why and where compression is required.

ted compression hose for nurses

Who Are Graduated Compression Socks For?

Graduated compression socks are commonly worn by those who spend a lot of time on their feet. For example, compression socks for nurses are very popular. They assist in the reduction of muscle fatigue and exhaustion and reduce the likelihood of having heavy and tired feeling legs.

By increasing the circulation of blood they are appropriate for treatment and prevention of a range of medical conditions. One of the more popular applications is against the development of varicose or spider veins. By promoting a healthy circulation of blood, the blood vessels in the legs are less likely to bulge and show through the skin.

They are also commonly applied to any venous insufficiency and a host of other medical conditions. Similar to TED hose, they are also commonly prescribed to prevent and also treat DVT. For example they are popular during long haul flights.

Another common application is wearing compression socks during pregnancy as wearing graduated compression socks reduces pooling of blood and swelling in the feet. Athletes also find graduated compression socks to be an effective means of boosting their performance. They believe that the increased blood circulation not only provides muscles with increased levels of oxygen, which acts as fuel, but also assists in recovery and reduced downtime.

TED Hose vs Compression Stockings: The Bottom Line

When determining whether TED hose or compression stockings are more appropriate for you, you need to ask yourself one question: are you confined to bed? You can follow the rule of thumb ‘TED is for bed’. If you need compression but are still active, then graduated compression stockings are for you. If you have any questions or comments about TED hose vs compression stockings, please feel free to leave them below.

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