Compression elastic bandages are easy to find in pharmacies, and at least one should be kept in every first aid kit. However, having one and knowing when to use it are two very different things. If you aren’t familiar with compression bandages, then you need to know that they’re usually either white or beige-colored and are extremely stretchy. These bandages are sold in rolls and range from two to six inches wide. In order to use them, they need to be unwrapped and then wrapped around the area of the body that needs treatment – usually an ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist. Some are secured with small metal pins, while others adhere to themselves and stay in place on their own. Now that you’re familiar with these bandages, it’s time to go into detail about how to properly use them.
Compression Bandages Are Only For Certain Types of Injuries
To put it simply, you should only use an elastic compression bandage on a sprain or a strain. Some examples include sprained ankles and knees, strained wrists and elbows or any other joint that’ sustained some sort of ligament or tendon sprain or strain. These compression bandages aren’t designed for broken bones, and you shouldn’t use them to hold gauze in place. They also won’t double as a tourniquet, because they won’t wrap tightly enough to cut off the blood flow entirely.
Now that you understand the general types of injuries that require one of these bandages, it’s time to learn more about them.
Only Use a Compression Bandage for the First 24 or 48 Hours
The entire point of a compression bandage is to keep swelling down. You don’t want to be stuck with a very swollen, painful ankle when you need to keep moving. However, you only need to use the bandage during the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs. If you keep it on longer than that, then you run the risk of not letting blood flow to the injured area properly. This blood flow is what helps it to heal!
Follow the Rules of RICE
In this case, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. For example, right after you sprain your ankle, you need to treat it with RICE. Secure your ankle with the compression bandage and relax as best as you can (basically, stay off of the ankle). You’ll also need to elevate your ankle above your heart to keep the blood flow from making the swelling worse, and then apply an ice pack. These are the basic ways to treat a sprain. Remember to keep in mind that you only need to follow these steps for as long as the compression bandage needs to stay on – between 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs.
Remember That These Are For Compression Only
The “compression” part of the name of the bandage is the key. You shouldn’t use them to support broken bones or to help you walk with an injury. Yes, your sprained ankle will feel better when the compression bandage is applied, but this doesn’t mean that you should walk on it. You need to stay off of that leg for at least a major part of the 24 to 48 hour period before you can try moving around again.
Overall, compression elastic bandages are great for sprains and strains. They can help those injuries heal much more quickly than they would when left untreated.