Dear Dr. Roach: Where should the top of my compression stocking be? I was told by the salespeople that the top should be about two inches below the bend in the knee. But there is extra pressure that could cut off the blood flow at this location. It is a very thick part of my calf, and having to double over the material increases the pressure there. Having the stocking end inside the bend of my knee (behind the knee) seems to exert less pressure.
Answer: The ideal top of the compression stocking depends on how high the swelling goes. For most people with lower-limb swelling that comes from changes in the veins due to getting older — when the valves in the veins fail, leading to varicose veins and leg swelling, especially after a long day or excess salt intake — below the knee is a common site. For other people, thigh high is more appropriate.