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What are Short Stretch Bandages?

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  • Written By: Alice D.
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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A short stretch bandage is a fabric compression bandage that is used to reduce swelling in a limb. It is referred to as short stretch because it does not stretch much, which has nothing to do with its length. This kind of bandage puts pressure on the skin and muscles to improve absorption of fluids. As the person moves the injured limb, usually an arm, leg, or hand, the bandage provides a massaging action on the muscles that could speed up the healing process.

These bandages are different than the typical elastic roll bandages used for athletic injuries. Those bandages are long stretch bandages, meaning that they have the ability to stretch quite far, usually more than twice their original size. Long stretch bandages do not provide the massaging effect that the short stretch bandages do.

Medical supply stores and specialty pharmacies typically carry short stretch bandages. The package labeling should describe the length of stretch. If stretch is expressed as a percentage, it should be less than 100 percent. Sometimes, the product labeling description compares the stretched length of the bandage to the unstretched length. In that case, the stretched length should be less than twice the unstretched length.

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The package labeling will also give details of the materials used in the bandage. Some of these bandages use latex, which can cause allergic reactions that can be quite unpleasant. Some brands are self-adhering and others need to be fastened with clips or Velcro®. They are made from 100-percent cotton so that they can be washed and reused, and typically come in widths from 1 to 4 inches (about 2.54 to 10.16 cm) and a variety of lengths.

Like all elastic bandages, short stretch bandages need to be applied carefully so that they are tight enough to be effective but not tight enough to cut off blood flow. A person usually should begin by wrapping the bandage at the fingers or toes and working up toward the body so that the pressure is higher at the lower end. It can be important to frequently check for signs that the bandaging is too tight. If the bandaged area turns bluish, tingles, loses feeling, or feels cold, then the bandage might need to be adjusted.

Short stretch bandages are often used as one layer in a system of three or four layers of bandaging for compression treatment of patients with chronic swelling issues. These included people suffering with chronic leg ulcers, which can be caused by a wide variety of circulation problems. They are also used in the treatment of lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system.

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ddljohn
Post 3

Short stretch bandages are the best bandages for leg edema. I have been using them for a few years now and I have not found something that works better.

burcinc
Post 2

@fify-- You can definitely use a short stretch bandage around the ankle, but just make sure that you have the right size bandage. A short stretch bandage with a width of 8 cm or just a little over 3 inches work for most people. If you have large feet and ankles, you need something a little bigger and if you have very small ankles, you need something smaller.

The trick to using short stretch bandages correctly is not wrapping them too tight. I think the risk of cutting off circulation is a bit greater with this type of bandage since it does not stretch at all. So you have to make sure that there is circulation in your feet

and toes when you wear this bandage. Check your feet and toes frequently after putting it on. If your feet feel cold and start changing color, that's the warning sign for you to remove the bandage. And I think you should check with your doctor first before using any kind of compression bandage.
fify
Post 1

I too thought that short stretch bandages refer to the length of the bandage. I was wondering why anyone would need a short stretch bandage since the purpose is to wrap the bandage around the limp for a compression effect. Now I understand what the difference is between a short stretch and a long stretch bandage. Thanks!

I use long stretch bandages frequently because I have a bad ankle that sprains too often. I have never used a short stretch bandage before and I'm not sure if this type of bandage would be suitable for an ankle sprain. Does anyone know?

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