TYPE 2 - Light Support

Light support bandages: products in this group are also sometimes called short or minimal stretch bandages. They include the familiar crepe-type products of the British Pharmacopoeia together with numerous “non-official” variations of these bandages, which are manufactured from cotton or cotton and viscose, and which show considerable variability in performance. They are used to prevent the formation of oedema and give support in the management of mild sprains and strains.

Compared with the compression bandages described below, light support or minimal stretch bandages have limited extensibility and elasticity, and tend to “lock out” at relatively low levels of extension. It is this feature that enables them to be applied firmly over a joint to give support without generating significant levels of pressure.

Short stretch bandages have also been used for the treatment of venous leg ulcers. When applied at full extension, they form an inelastic covering to the leg which tends to resist any change in the geometry of the calf muscle during exercise, thereby increasing surface pressure in a cyclical fashion and enhancing the action of the calf muscle pump.

Similarly, when an individual moves from a supine to a standing position or sits with the legs dependent, blood collects in the vessels and sinuses of the lower leg under the influence of gravity, causing the volume of the leg to increase. If this is associated with the formation of oedema, leg volume will increase still further.

A short stretch bandage applied at full stretch, with the legs elevated, will tend to resist a change in volume as the legs are placed in a dependent position. This restriction will result in a significant rise in sub-bandage pressure, the degree of which will be determined by whether the subject is sitting or standing. If the subject then reverts to a supine position, the effects of gravity are reduced, the leg volume decreases and the sub-bandage pressure falls. For this reason short stretch bandages produce low residual or resting pressures.

Because short stretch bandages have limited elasticity, they are likely to be less effective than high compression bandages at reducing existing oedema as they lack the ability to “follow in” as a limb reduces in circumference. They may, however, offer some advantages in the treatment of venous ulcers where a degree of arterial impairment is known or suspected as the low residual pressures will be less likely to compromise arterial inflow.

Examples of Type 2 light support bandages (including short stretch bandages) include Elastocrepe, Leukocrepe, Lenkelast and Comprilan.

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