Healing With Compression Bandage: A Complete How-To Guide

Understand how compression bandages work and learn how to apply them for quicker & proper recovery. Follow our tips, dos & don’ts and more!

Have you ever landed too hard after trying to catch a ball? Maybe you unknowingly stepped onto an uneven pavement and twisted your ankle. Or you had an accident at the workplace after working with heavy machinery for days, leading to excruciating arm pain.

This can only mean one thing: you’ve experienced a sprain injury at some point.

Sprains, resulting from the overstretching or tearing of ligaments, can be both painful and inconvenient. While such injuries are inevitable, knowing the basics of first aid for sprain matters. This is where compression bandages come into play, helping control swelling and providing support.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at compression bandages, how to choose the right size and when to see a doctor. We’ll also give you a first aid guide for treating arm, foot and ankle injuries. Continue reading below to learn more!

What is a Compression Bandage?

Also called a Tensor bandage, a compression bandage is a type of stretchy bandage that applies gentle pressure to injured body parts. Often used in first aid’s RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), which helps ease pain and swelling by controlling blood flow and limiting the accumulation of fluid at the injury site.

These wraps usually target sprained or strained muscles, and in some situations, compression bandages can even be a long-term remedy for certain health issues like blood clots and circulation problems.

Choosing The Right Compression Bandage Size

To ensure proper healing and effective support, you should choose the right size of compression bandage. Here are some of the most common guidelines you can follow to pick the appropriate size:

Measure The Injured Area

Before buying a compression bandage, measure the circumference or length of the injured area. This could be the leg, ankle, wrist or any other body part that needs compression. Make sure you measure at the widest point for the best fit.

Consider The Width and The Length

Keep in mind that compression bandages come in different widths. This is why you should choose a width that is appropriate for the size of the injured area. For instance, wider bandages may be suitable for larger joints like knees, while narrower ones may be better for wrists or ankles.

Here are some examples:

  • 6-inch Compression Bandage: suitable for the chest, torso or thigh
  • 3- to 4-inch Compression Bandage: appropriate for an adult arm or leg
  • 2-inch Compression Bandage: suitable for children’s arms or legs and adult fingers

You should also make sure that the bandage is long enough to wrap around the injured area adequately. It’s better to have a slightly longer bandage that allows for proper wrapping without being too tight.

So, if you’re in doubt, go for a slightly larger size. That way, you can avoid restricting blood flow and causing discomfort. Just be careful not to choose a bandage that’s way too wide since it may not provide enough compression.

Check The Sizing Chart

The size of the compression bandage you choose may depend on your preferred brand’s sizing chart. They may have slightly different sizing specifications, so follow accordingly.

Consult a Doctor

If you’re still uncertain about the right size, you should consult a healthcare professional. They can provide personalised guidance based on your specific needs and conditions.

First Aid Techniques: How To Use a Compression Bandage

Using a compression bandage to treat an injury can be tricky. You need to apply the correct pressure: firm enough to avoid swelling and stabilise the injury, yet gentle enough to avoid any discomfort or circulation issues.

Fortunately, first aid techniques when applying bandages can be easy. All you need is a sterile compression bandage appropriate for the type of injury you have to treat. You should also wash your hands thoroughly before handling the bandage to prevent introducing bacteria to the wound.

To get started, follow the instructions below:

Compression Bandage For Arm or Leg: How To Wrap a Sprained Arm or Leg

For an injured arm or leg, here’s what you should do:

  1. If the bandage is not already rolled up, roll it up before use.
  2. Hold the bandage with the starting point of the roll facing upward.
  3. Make sure the limb is in a neutral position.
  4. Begin wrapping at the farthest end of the limb.
  5. Proceed with wrapping, ensuring to overlap the edges by approximately an inch during each rotation.
  6. Once done, secure the end using clip fasteners or tape.

Compression Bandage For Ankle: How To Wrap a Sprained Ankle

Here are the steps to treat a sprained ankle using a compression bandage:

  1. Start by cutting horseshoe-shaped felt pieces to make a centimetre-thick pad.
  2. Place the pad with the open end facing upward and place it under the ankle bone to prevent fluid buildup.
  3. Prepare the bandage. Roll it up if not already done.
  4. Hold the ankle at a 90-degree angle. Wrap the bandage around the ball of the foot once, slightly pulling for a snug fit.
  5. Circle the bandage over the arch of your foot, across the top and around the ankle. Bring it back down over the top of your foot and under the arch, moving in a figure-eight pattern.
  6. Wrap the bandage around the felt pad to keep it in place. Wrap it again in a figure-eight pattern, moving up towards the calf and down towards the heel.
  7. Wrap until the entire foot is covered, from the base of your toes to about 10 cm above the ankle.
  8. Use clip fasteners or tape to secure the end of the bandage.

Compression Bandage For Wrist: How To Wrap a Sprained Wrist

Here’s how you can use a compression bandage on a wrist:

  1. Start with the bandage rolled up.
  2. Begin at the base of the fingers, near the fleshy part between the thumb and index finger.
  3. Wrap the bandage around the hand, making sure it overlaps itself.
  4. Continue wrapping it towards your wrist by circling it several times in an overlapping pattern. Aim to end about 5-6 inches above your wrist.
  5. Use clip fasteners or tape to secure the end of the bandage.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help! If you don’t feel confident using a compression bandage,  reach out to your healthcare provider or ask your pharmacist for guidance on proper usage.

Dos and Don’ts When Using Compression Bandage

Once you get the hang of using compression bandages, they are very easy to use. They can speed up the recovery process and get you back on your feet (literally!) in no time. 

But if compression bandages are used incorrectly, they can make your injuries worse and cause infections. 

To promote proper healing and prevent complications, take a closer look at the dos and don’ts you should follow:

Dos

  • Only use a compression bandage for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury.
  • Rest and elevate the injured area along with using compression.
  • Take the bandage off twice a day for a few minutes and then put it back on.
  • Consult your doctor to determine whether wearing a compression bandage during sleep is advisable; if yes, slightly loosen it before bedtime.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use a compression bandage on an open wound. Seek medical attention first for proper treatment.
  • Don’t apply ice and compression simultaneously as it may lead to frostbite.
  • Don’t wrap elastic bandages excessively tight to prevent cutting off circulation.
  • Don’t use a compression bandage to avoid re-injury; while they stabilise joints, they don’t provide enough support or protection.
  • Don’t use stretched-out bandages. Washing them can restore some elasticity, but consider buying new ones if needed.

 

When To See a Doctor

While compression bandages are beneficial for treating sprains and other conditions, consult a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain: Using a compression bandage should cause too much pain. If the pain becomes unbearable, immediately seek medical attention.
  • Discolouration: Purple discolouration, redness, or bruising under the bandage can be concerning and require treatment.
  • Numbness or tingling: This indicates reduced blood flow to the area.
  • Continuous swelling: If the swelling worsens even with proper bandaging, give your doctor a call.
  • Pus or drainage: Any discharge from the injured area requires prompt medical attention.

Most importantly, if you suspect there’s a fracture on a ligament sprain, schedule an X-ray or MRI appointment to get the right treatment for your injury.

Final Thoughts

You’ll never know when you’ll sprain your ankle, wrist, or arm, but having a compression bandage in a first aid kit in public spaces or at home can make all the difference. This is especially important when you’re an athlete, where the risk of injuries is always there.

A compression bandage not only provides immediate support but also facilitates a quicker recovery process, allowing you to get back to what you love doing sooner.

And even when you’re just someone who wants to look after their loved ones, knowing how to apply compression bandages can potentially save lives. 

If you’re ready to take the next step, explore our first aid courses today and become a confident first responder. At Medlink, we offer a diverse range of courses tailored to different needs and experience levels, teaching you everything from CPR & AED to basic first aid.

Remember: sometimes, the best bandage is prevention. Visit our website today to learn more about our first-aid courses!

FAQs

How many hours should you wear a compression bandage?

Generally, wearing a compression bandage for 24 to 48 hours following an injury is recommended. This helps control swelling and offers support during the healing phase.

Is it OK to sleep with compression wrap?

In most cases, sleeping with a compression bandage is not recommended. This can reduce circulation, risk hygiene issues, and interfere with your sleep. However, it’s best to consult your doctor about specific instructions for overnight wear based on your injury.

Can you wear compression every day?

Daily wear isn’t always suitable or necessary. Factors like your condition, type of compression garment, and potential side effects need to be considered. Again, consult your doctor for personalized advice.

About Medlink Healthcare Group

Committed to providing a comprehensive healthcare ecosystem, Medlink Healthcare Group delivers top-notch ambulance services, first-aid courses and industrial paramedics. We aim to empower individuals, businesses and communities to effectively respond in times of medical emergencies, right when it matters the most.

Our first aid courses cover a wide range of topics, including a CPR + AED course, BCLS course, occupational first aid course, and a standard first aid course in Singapore—both accredited by SRFAC. Whether you’re an individual looking to acquire life-saving skills or a business investing in workplace safety and health training, we have the right course for you.

Alongside training programs, our private ambulance services are led by highly trained paramedics and equipped with cutting-edge medical technology. Every second counts; we are always ready to provide prompt and expert care when you need it most. 

Our industrial paramedics solutions can also meet the unique needs of your workplace, from on-call doctors to screening exercises and specialised clinics. We ensure that you have access to the right medical services to keep employees safe and sound, no matter where they are. 

Your journey to safety starts with us. Contact us today and prepare to respond in any emergency.

DISCLAIMER:
This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for a comprehensive first-aid course provided by certified professionals. Readers are strongly encouraged to acquire a first aid education to receive the appropriate training and certification.

We do not assume responsibility for any actions taken based on the information provided in this article. Always consult with certified first aid professionals and seek hands-on training to ensure you are well-prepared to handle emergency situations competently.

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