A tensor bandage (also known as a compression bandage or elastic bandage) is a highly tensile (stretchable) cloth bandage used to apply compression to soft tissue injuries such as sprains or strains.
They are normally used for the compression component of the R.I.C.E. treatment (Rest, Icing, Compression, Elevation) that has become the standard home based treatment for soft tissue injuries.
When applied correctly as part of a R.I.C.E. treatment, these bandages are effective at restricting the swelling and inflammation during the first 24-48 hours of a soft tissue injury.
Tensor bandages are an economical alternative to sleeves such as arm or elbow compression sleeves. They are more versatile than compression sleeves since they can be torn to any shape desired and used on any part of the body.
Self adherent bandages can also serve as tourniquets if it is necessary to reduce blood flow to the distal side of an injury.
These bandages normally come in widths ranging from 2 to 6 inches and can be either single or double length. They are normally secured to the body by means of clips and are designed to retain their elasticity even after repeated washings and dryings.
Some of the better tensor bandages on the market come with antimicrobial treatments in order to eliminate unsightly stains or unpleasant odors after prolonged usage.
Choosing The Correct Tensor Bandage Width
As mentioned above, tensor bandages come in widths between 2 and 6 inches. The wider bandages are appropriate for use on larger body parts such as adult knees or shoulders. Narrower bandages are more suited for smaller body parts such as the wrist or on the limbs of a child.
As an example, a typically sized adult arm or leg may require the use of a 3-4 inch bandage. On the other hand, a 2 inch wide bandage would normally suffice for the fingers of an adult or the limbs of a child.
Deluxe v. Econo Bandages
In addition to being available in various lengths and widths, tensor bandages are also available in econo and deluxe grades.
Deluxe bandages are normally constructed from premium woven spandex and cotton. They are designed to apply uniform compression over larger areas.
Some Cautionary Advice
While using tensor bandages, we would suggest you follow the precautions below:
If you experience any loss of feeling, numbness, tingling or unusual sensations while using these bandages, loosen them slightly. Unusual sensations or a loss of feeling may be an indication that they are interfering with your blood circulation.
If the unusual sensations continue, remove the bandages immediately and contact your doctor for advice.
Only use these bandages for the first 24-48 hours after your injury.
For faster healing, combine the use of the tensor bandages with the other R.I.C.E. components as much as possible.
Remember that these bandages are designed to apply compression, but not support. If you need support to take the stress of an injured joint, you should consider using an orthopedic brace, K Tape or Athletic Tape. If you are concerned about the risk of re-injury, these bandages will not be a solution, as they only provide compression to heal an existing injury.
Loosen the bandage slightly at bedtime. If it is too tight, it may interfere with your sleep;
Most tensor bandages are not designed to be put into washing machines or dryers. To ensure that your tensor maintains its compressive capabilities, you should hand wash it in warm soapy water. Then rinse it and allow it to air dry.