1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Elastic Bandages

When to Use an Elastic Bandage and When Not To

By

Updated April 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

elastic bandage

Elastic bandages are for compression, not support.

(c) Rod Brouhard

Elastic bandages are often used for the compression part of RICE -- rest, ice, compression and elevation -- the gold standard of first aid treatment for bruises and sprains.

Elastic bandages do a good job of compressing a new injury or inflammation and help keep swelling down. However, there's a limit to how long you should compress an injury. At some point, blood flow to the injured area needs to increase to encourage healing.

Elastic Bandage Dos and Don'ts

  • Do use elastic bandages only in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. Essentially, you wouldn't use an elastic bandage any more than you would use ice on an injury.
  • Do combine rest and elevation with compression whenever possible.
  • Don't wrap ice under the elastic bandage. Always apply ice and compression separately to avoid frostbite. The best bet is to alternate ice and compression. Either ice or Ace, but not both.
  • Don't wrap elastic bandages too tightly. The idea is just to discourage swelling, not to block blood flow altogether.
  • Don't try to wrap an ankle or a knee with an elastic bandage to keep it from twisting or getting re-injured. Elastic bandages do not provide support; they are simply for compression.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. First Aid
  4. Basic First Aid
  5. Breaks & Sprains
  6. When to Use an Elastic Bandage and When Not To

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.