A tensor bandage is an elasticized bandage used to provide support to a sprained or strained limb. This type of bandage may also be known as an ace bandage or ace wrap. Many drugstores carry tensor bandages in their wound care aisles and they are also available at doctor's offices and clinics in standardized lengths and widths. These bandages can be useful to keep in a first aid kit for immediate treatment of strains and sprains. Athletes, in particular, may keep these bandages around to be prepared for injuries.
This bandage design consists of an elasticized knit. The bandage can be wrapped around an ankle, wrist, or knee and it will conform, holding tension and providing support. Tensor bandages are held in place with small, toothed metal clips. The materials used in the bandage can include synthetics, as well as cotton and other natural fibers, depending on the manufacturer. Typically, these bandages are cream or flesh colored and they may be striped or decorated.
One advantage to the tensor bandage is that the knit allows the fabric to breathe naturally. The skin underneath the bandage benefits from the air circulation. These bandages are also fully washable and reusable. The design usually withstands hard washing and bleach, allowing people to fully clean a bandage between uses. Since these bandages are not designed to be applied directly to wounds, they shouldn't absorb infectious material like liquids that seep from injuries.
Care must be taken when applying a tensor bandage. The flexibility of the bandage can allow someone to wrap too tightly, which exposes the patient to the risk of injury. The area of concern should be wrapped starting below the area of injury and working up. While the bandage should be snug, if the area below the injury changes color, tingles, or feels numb, the bandage is too tight. A feeling of snug support should be experienced while wearing the bandage, but not pinching or pain.
Tensor bandages are usually stored rolled up and clipped. The roll is not tight, ensuring that the elastic does not wear out from being kept in a constant state of tension. If the clips are lost and damaged, replacement clips can be purchased. When the shape of the bandage starts to be distorted or the elastic is clearly overstretched, it is time to replace the bandage. Likewise, bandages that are badly stained or that have been in contact with highly infectious people should be discarded.