How do I Apply an Elbow Bandage?

Jessica Reed

An elbow bandage helps prevent swelling and further injury to a sprained elbow or injured tendon in the elbow. When caring for an injured elbow at home, the patient needs to wrap his elbow using an elbow bandage and contact his doctor as soon as possible for further medical advice. To properly use the elbow bandage, the injured person will need a friend or family member to help him wrap the bandage around the arm below the elbow and then above the elbow to create a snug, secure hold. Applying ice wrapped in a towel to the elbow for roughly 15 minutes before wrapping it can help with swelling and pain.

An elbow bandage should be placed below and above the elbow to create a snug, secure hold.
An elbow bandage should be placed below and above the elbow to create a snug, secure hold.

The person wrapping the bandage should take one end of a long compression bandage, usually tan in color, and wrap it two times around the arm just under the elbow. The injured person should bend his elbow slightly first, but if this causes him pain he should leave the arm straight. The bandage may feel tight but it should not be uncomfortable or cut off blood flow in the arm. Next the helper should wrap the bandage up and around the arm in a diagonal motion, leaving the actual bone part of the elbow exposed.

Injuries to the elbow occur most often from sports such as tennis.
Injuries to the elbow occur most often from sports such as tennis.

When the bandage reaches the upper arm above the elbow, the helper should wrap it around the arm twice to secure it and then wrap back down in a diagonal motion. Part of the elbow is often still visible after the wrapping is complete. The helper can then use small clips or tape to secure the end of the bandage to the bottom part of the bandage on the lower arm. Clips or special tape should come with the bandage or be located in a basic first aid kit.

An elbow bandage may help prevent further injury to an injured elbow.
An elbow bandage may help prevent further injury to an injured elbow.

Certain medical supply stores and websites sell elbow bandages that come as one piece instead of a bandage the user must wrap. The bandage slides onto the arm and performs the same function as a regular elbow bandage. Those who play racket sports, such as tennis, might consider keeping such a bandage on hand along with a first aid kit. Injuries to the elbow occur most often from sports or hobbies that involve a lot of bending and use of the muscles in the elbow. Having an elbow bandage on hand will make it easier for a person to handle the situation properly until he can see his doctor for medical advice.

An elbow bandage should not be used as a substitute for getting proper diagnosis and care for an injured elbow.
An elbow bandage should not be used as a substitute for getting proper diagnosis and care for an injured elbow.
An elbow sleeve can provide pressure and support for muscles and connective tissues for those with tennis elbow.
An elbow sleeve can provide pressure and support for muscles and connective tissues for those with tennis elbow.

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Discussion Comments

Reminiscence

If you can't find someone to help wrap an elbow bandage, you might also consider using compression elbow sleeves. They'll slip over your arm and provide the same kind of support for your injured elbow. I agree with Inaventu about the use of a sling in addition to the elbow wrap. I also take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications whenever I get a case of tennis elbow.

Inaventu

If I hurt my elbow while playing sports, I have to decide between using elbow bandages and elbow braces. I find that if I cut my elbow right at the joint, then an elbow wrap will help keep the gauze bandage in place. If it's more of a muscle pull or tendinitis, like tennis elbow, I find an elbow brace to be more supportive.

I also think an injured elbow should be placed in a sling to keep it supported and more immobile while it heals.

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