Whether you sprain your knee in a pick-up basketball game or by slipping on ice, an ace bandage is one of the first and most effective treatments for such an injury. An ace bandage and some rest can prevent swelling and reduce pain in a knee sprain. Also, remember the acronym RICE--it stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. These steps are the most effective first aid for a knee sprain. Some people expand it to PRICE, with the \"P\" representing protection. This is simply to remind us that the first step in treating any injury is to prevent further harm and do what's necessary to protect the injury. This may mean immobilizing the knee with a splint or using crutches if necessary.
Things You'll Need
- Ice or cold compress
- Cloth medical tape
Before you wrap the knee, apply ice for about 15 to 20 minutes. The purpose of ice, compression and elevation is to limit blood flow to the area. This will reduce swelling before wrapping and relieve pain. Cold may also reduce bleeding in case of a tear in the tissue. Be sure the skin does not turn white, and that there is no numbness when you apply cold; these might be signs of frostbite. People with diabetes or poor circulation are especially susceptible to frostbite.
Remove the bandage from its plastic package and unroll about 2 to 4 inches of it. Keep the knee in a comfortable position. With one hand, hold the loose end of the bandage on a spot just above the knee.
Roll the bandage once all the way around the knee. Make your first wrap over the top of the loose end of the bandage, to hold it in place. Start just below the knee and work your way up, to avoid forcing fluid into the knee.
Continue to wrap around the knee, working your way up to a spot just above it. With each new wrap, overlay about 1/2 to 1/3 of the previous width of bandage. Don't wrap too tightly. If the bandage is too tight or uncomfortable, unwrap it and start over. Once you've completely wrapped the knee, cut the bandage loose from the roll and clip it in place.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen. (Make sure you don't have any conditions, prescriptions or allergies that might preclude taking these medications).The Mayo Clinic website recommends an ice pack or slush bath of ice and water for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours for the first few days. Also, remember to keep the area elevated as much as possible. Keeping the area above the heart will be most effective in reducing swelling. The Mayo Clinic suggests you call your doctor if the pain, stiffness and swelling don't improve in 2 or 3 days.
Tips & Warnings
- According to the Mayo Clinic website, you should seek medical attention immediately if one of the following occurs:
- You hear a popping sound when you injure the joint
- You're unable to bear weight on the joint because of the feeling of instability or pain; or
- The sprain is a severe one.
- For strains, seek medical help immediately if the area quickly becomes swollen, or if you suspect a ruptured muscle or broken bone.
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