Life is full of twists and turns. The real trouble comes when those twists happen in your joints.
When you have a busy schedule full of work, family activities, chores, sports or fitness goals, or even just errands to run, the last thing you need is to be sidelined by a twist, strain, or sprain.
The good news is that with a little bit of self-care and a good compression wrap, you’ll be back on your feet in no time – and you’ll be in better position to prevent reinjuring yourself in the future.
Assessing your pain: twists, strains, sprains, tears, and fractures
First, let’s talk about the difference between the types of injuries1 that typically require the use of support straps and wraps – or more – to help heal or prevent further injury.
- A twist is a relatively minor turn in a joint. For instance, if you step on an uneven surface, you can twist your ankle and feel dull pain for a short period of time. You can typically treat a twist with home care.
- A strain is a stretch or minor tear in a muscle or tendon – tissue that connects muscles to bones. Most minor strains can be treated at home, but if you struggle to put weight on the affected area or find symptoms getting worse rather than better, you might want to check in with your doctor.
- A sprain is a stretch or minor tear in a ligament, or the tissue that connects bones to other bones. As with strains, whether you can treat a sprain at home or should see a doctor largely depends on the severity of the injury.
- A tear is a severe sprain that results in completely torn ligament.
- A fracture is a broken bone.
While tears and fractures require medical attention, twists, strains, and sprains may not. The typical recommended self-care home treatment for these types of injuries is a process called R.I.C.E. or Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.2
- Rest the injured area for about 48 hours to avoid further aggravating the injury.
- Ice the area for 20 minutes at a time a few times a day to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Compression can reduce swelling and offer support as you increase movement or try to avoid reinjury once you’ve healed.
- Elevation above heart level can help reduce swelling and pain by draining fluid back toward the heart rather than rushing to the affected area.
Rest, ice, and elevation are important at the onset of a twist, strain, or sprain, but compression is key to getting back up and moving, and to preventing reinjury in the future.
Pain support: using straps and wraps
A compression strap or wrap can help provide compression, support, and protection from head to toe.
- Arthritis pain: Because compression reduces swelling and enhances blood flow, a compression wrap or strap can be beneficial for those suffering with chronic pain due to arthritis. If you have arthritis pain in joints like your thumb, wrist, elbow, or knee, in particular, a compression wrap can offer a little extra support throughout the day. 2
- Tennis elbow: Tennis elbow – an overuse injury common among plumber, painters, carpenters, and butchers (and, of course, tennis players) – mostly affects the area where the tendons in your forearm attach to the bone on the outside of your elbow.3 It’s usually caused by repetitive motions in your wrist and arm that cause a strain, and it’s often most painful with continued movement. A support strap designed for your elbow can both accelerate healing and provide relief in the process.
- Wrist pain: Your wrists are delicate joints involved in so much of what you do – whether you’re sitting at a computer all day or working with your hands. That makes them especially susceptible to overuse injuries, twists, strains, and sprains. A compression support wrap specially designed for your wrist can allow you to keep up with what needs to get done while allowing your wrist to heal. To really speed up the healing, consider a wrist wrap with hot/cold therapy Heat therapy promotes blood flow, relaxes tight muscles, and decreases joint stiffness, while cold therapy reduces swelling.
- Thumb injury: When your thumb hurts, it impacts everything. And a thumb injury can happen to anyone, at any age. Trying to wrap a thumb with a basic ACE bandage is unlikely to both support the thumb correctly and allow you to use your thumb for basic tasks, but a compression wrap built for your thumb can offer relief and motion – without slipping out of place.
- Back pain: Twisting can aggravate back pain, so a compression wrap can provide necessary core stability and increased blood flow to help a back injury heal faster while providing extra support.
- Knee pain: Knee pain can take many forms, and the cause of your knee pain dictates how best to provide compression. A sleeve or wrap style brace is best suited for osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, an ACL sprain or tear, or a meniscus injury, while a patella support strap provides optimal support for patellar tendinitis or Iliotibial Band Syndrome. 4
- Ankle pain: Ankle sprains are common injuries that can lead to long-term problems if they don’t heal properly.5 A compression wrap can decrease swelling and, paired with an immobilizing brace, can ensure the injury heals fully to avoid ongoing complications.
- Plantar fasciitis: The chronic pain that comes with plantar fasciitis can be debilitating and interfere with everyday activities, but a good support strap can provide much-needed relief during daily errands and physical activities. Applying consistent pressure with a compression strap reduces inflammation and improves blood and oxygen flow to promote healing.
Support for your furry friends
A compression wrap can support your entire family, including those on four legs. Your furry family members can fall victim to strains and sprains too.
When your pet has an injury, it doesn’t know to rest and may not stay off of the injured area enough to let it fully heal. Applying a compression wrap can help hold your pet’s muscle or joint in place and aid in healing.6
You shouldn’t have to sit on the sidelines when the aches and pains of life hit. With a little home care and the right tools, you can continue to do the things you love and start to feel better, sooner. If your pet continues to show symptoms or is distressed you should consult with a qualified veterinarian.
1WebMD: Sprain vs. Strain: What’s the Difference?
2VeryWell Health: R.I.C.E. Treatment for Acute Musculoskeletal Injury
3Mayo Clinic: Tennis Elbow
4Healthline: 5 Best Knee Braces and How to Choose
6Fetch by WebMD: Strains and Sprains Spell Pain for Dogs