Sprained ankle: Can you overdo compression wraps?

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Sprained ankle: Can you overdo compression wraps?

Question

My teenage son plays basketball and occasionally comes home with sprained ankles and elbows. He usually wants to wrap the injured body part with an elastic bandage or athletic tape. But I'm wondering if he's overdoing it with wraps. When is wrapping appropriate?

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Answer

Compression wraps are often helpful for sprained ankles, wrists and elbows. This is part of the initial treatment approach for sprains and strains — along with immobilizing, resting, icing and elevating the injury. Wrapping the injury with an elastic bandage helps reduce swelling.

Taping may also be used to provide added support to an injured joint, such as a sprained ankle or wrist. Although taping initially may be helpful in providing support, athletic tape loses its stabilizing effect within a relatively short period. Support braces, such as ankle support braces, may provide longer term benefit in preventing sprains.

When applying a compression wrap, be sure not to wrap the joint or muscle too tightly. This may impair circulation. Begin wrapping at the farthest part from your heart. Loosen the wrap if the pain increases, the area becomes numb or swelling is occurring below the wrapped area.

Although compression wrapping is an effective initial treatment for sprained ankles, wrists and elbows, it should be followed up by a medical evaluation to determine the extent and type of injury and, if needed, to design appropriate rehabilitation therapy to maximize strength and function.

One of the best "braces" you can give yourself is your muscle "brace." It is essential to train strength and stability back into the injured body part to provide maximum protection from injury.

Last Updated: 05/24/2006
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