Joint injuries can often be initially treated with an elastic bandage for compression and support. But there are many reasons and ways to use an elastic bandage after an injury, and times when one shouldn’t be used at all. Here are some tips about when and how to use an elastic bandage.
When used immediately after injury, an elastic bandage can serve many functions:
- Control swelling around an injured joint
- Hold an ice pack in place
- Secure a splint after a fracture or severe sprain
- Keep other bandages secure and protected
- Elastic bandages should not be used over an open wound. Clean and dress the wound before applying any type of wrap, splint, or other support. Serious wounds need professional medical attention.
- Don’t wrap too tightly. A bandage that’s too tight can cut off circulation completely. Swelling at either end of the bandage, numbness or tingling, or discoloration means the bandage is too tight and needs to be adjusted.
- Leave the fingers and toes unwrapped, exposed, and free to move. This also helps you stay alert to any changes in the injured area like redness or increased swelling, which should be examined by a doctor.
- Adjust the bandage throughout the day. Unwrap the injured area, reapply the bandage, and secure with clips or tape, taking care that there aren’t any wrinkles or twists in the bandage as you wrap. A smooth wrap applies even pressure to the injured area.
The pain and swelling associated with a sprain can mask more serious underlying injuries, so know when to get more help.
- If swelling and pain gets worse, it’s time to seek professional treatment.
- If, after removing the bandage, the injured area still feels numb or tingles, see your doctor.
- If a fracture on a ligament sprain is suspected, an X-ray or MRI will allow your doctor to prescribe the right treatment for your injury
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