First Aid: How to Wrap a Sprained Ankle or Sprained Wrist
While sprains and strains are less severe than stress fractures and torn ligaments, if not taken care of properly they can lead to serious complications further down the line. Whether you sprain your ankle in an everyday activity like walking down the stairs or strain your wrist after a terrible fall, sprains and strains don’t heal themselves. Medical wraps are a common first aid supply that provide relief for strains and sprains, but they’ll only help your injury heal if you use them properly.
Why use medical wraps for strains and sprains
Swelling, inflammation, and bruising are common symptoms of strains and sprains that are often very painful. When you neglect to administer proper first aid treatment in the early stages of these injuries you delay the healing process and increase your likelihood of the wound or injury not healing properly. Medical wraps provide compression to alleviate your sprain’s swelling and inflammation.
When to use medical wraps
Use medical wraps for strains and sprains within the first 24 to 48 hours of your injury. Wraps help compress the injury to reduce swelling, but you need to allow sufficient blood flow after the first couple of days in order for your injury to heal properly. Keep medical wraps on strains and sprains for no longer than two days.
How to properly wrap your strains and sprains
- Make sure you wrap the injury above and below the joint. This will restrict the joint’s movement just enough to prevent further injury.
- Overlap each bandage layer as your wrap by about 50% to ensure sufficient compression and support.
- Wrap in a figure eight pattern around the joint for added stability
- Use fasteners to secure your medical wraps when complete.
Additional considerations when wrapping an injury
- You don’t want the wrap to be too tight. You want to use compression to decrease swelling, but you don’t want to block blood flow completely.
- Rest and elevate your injury in addition to wrapping it.
- Do not wrap ice underneath the bandage. Ice your injury before you wrap it. You can also ice the injury after removing the wrap if needed.
- Keep the width of your bandage in mind. Medical wraps come in various widths, and the wider the wrap the more compression it provides. A three to four-inch wrap typically works well for the average adult arm or leg.
- Use the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Get your sprain or strain evaluated by a doctor to ensure proper treatment and healing.