mmHg compression socks for recovery

What Does mmHg Mean for Recovery?

Written by
Kaycee Jones
Friday 4, 2022

mmHg is a numerical pressure value that’s used to measure millimeters of mercury. The number can also be used to measure the pressure of the fluid inside your blood vessels. When there is a greater mmHg value, that means more pressure will be applied which will help blood flow more easily. Compression socks are made with different compression levels that fall into a range that don’t go below or above that given range. Each compression level is functional for different purposes that can help prevent and alleviate pain, while also reducing swelling. Each person’s needs are different, therefore they can all require different compression levels that support their needs.

Compression socks are commonly available in five different groups of mmHG measurements that include: 8-15 mmHg, 15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg, 30-40 mmHg, and 40-50 mmHg. 8-15 mmHg and 15-20 mmHg are considered standard over the counter and the latter three are medical grade. The socks with higher compression properties are designed to treat symptoms that are more severe.

8-15 mmHg Compression Socks

These compression socks offer the lightest amount of compression and can be used to provide better support and treat mild or infrequent swelling in the legs. They’re primarily beneficial for individuals sitting or standing most of the day. These socks will provide just enough circulation to encourage blood flow and keep it from pooling in one specific area.

15-20 mmHg Compression Socks

15-20 mmHg socks are the standard number for everyday over-the-counter compression socks. These socks are designed to help prevent lower levels of swelling and fatigue. They’re functional for standing on your feet all day, during performance activities, or for recovery. Socks in this range are generally still comfortable everyday socks and provide controlled pressure on the lower legs. In addition to reducing swelling or fatigue, this grade of compression socks can either help alleviate or prevent varicose veins, edema, and deep vein thrombosis from developing.                                                                                                                     

20-30 mmHg Compression Socks

These socks are the most commonly used form of medical-grade compression socks. They can be a standard option if your ankles are swollen after a full day of standing. This pain level can make everyday activities and motions uncomfortable and even tiring. Socks with this compression level can also be helpful if you’re experiencing severe aches or fatigue. This form of compression is designed to treat conditions like varicose veins and support recovery after surgery where damage has occurred in the lower legs. Functional for treating the conditions mentioned above, these compression socks can also help reduce more mid-level cases of edema, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis. Studies have shown that participants wearing 20-30 mmHg socks compared to 15-20 mmHg socks experienced more significant decreases in swelling, especially during the durations where the participant was sitting.

30-40 mmHg Compression Socks

30-40 mmHg compression socks are designed to help treat more complicated venous conditions. These conditions may include blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and even lymphedema. Socks with this compression level are beneficial when chronic cases of deep vein thrombosis and blood clots are already experienced. These more substantial grades of compression will help sedentary blood get unstuck and move back toward the heart. New blood will also have an easier time passing through the lower legs, which will cause excessive swelling to decrease.

40-50 mmHg Compression Socks

This grade of compression sock is the most significant medical grade available for prescription. It’s used to treat elevated cases of blood flow issues, leg pain, or foot pain. These conditions may include severe venous stasis and more lymphedema cases. Since this is the highest level of compression available, these socks should only be worn if you’ve consulted a physician about your leg and vein-related conditions. In addition to being able to treat severe varicosities, these socks can combat severe edema, as well as venous ulcers.


Compression Socks can be a great way to alleviate symptoms of swelling, fatigue, and more severe venous conditions. mmHg is a measurement of compression that determines how much pressure the socks will apply to the lower legs. A range of mmHg levels is functional for mild to more pronounced conditions. 8-15 mmHg and 15-20 mmHg are standard compression socks available over the counter. They offer more favorable levels of compression and can be used for recovery or treating lower levels of swelling, aching, and less severe cases of varicose veins. 20-30 mmHg, 30-40 mmHg, and 40-50 mmHg are considered medical grade and can be used to treat more elevated levels of swelling, various venous conditions, lymphedema, and treating blood clots.


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