Understanding Tourniquets And Why You Should Not Be Afraid To Use One

Posted on

If you have recently started learning about first aid, then you may have been informed about the ways that you can stop bleeding from a wound. This is an absolute necessity in many cases to keep an individual from going into shock. Unfortunately, direct pressure with your hands is not something that can stop wounds from bleeding when a severe injury affects one of your limbs. A tourniquet is needed in some situations, but many people are afraid to use them, even when they are properly trained in doing so. Keep reading to learn a few facts that will make you less hesitant.

Tourniquets Are Unlikely To Cause Tissue Death

Tourniquets are used to stop the arterial flow within a limb so that wounds do not continue to bleed. Typically, uncontrollable bleeding from a deep artery requires the assistance of a tourniquet. And, you must place enough pressure on this damaged artery to stop bleeding as completely as you can. Some first aid professionals used to say that tourniquets should be used only as a last resort, since they lead to amputations. However, this is not true, according to research studies.

When a tourniquet is used correctly, nerve damage will set in only if it remains in place for over two hours. Vascular, skin, and muscle damage will occur around this two hour mark as well. So, if you secure the tourniquet and seek out immediate medical care, lasting tissue damage is extremely unlikely. If amputation is required, it will often be caused by the injury itself, not the lack of blood flow to the tissues. 

Keep in mind that limbs will receive some blood flow due to the extensive vascular system seen in the limbs, even if it is somewhat limited. This is one reason why you may see some blood leakage even after the tourniquet is tied.

Tourniquet Placement Does Not Need To Be Exact

If you are an amateur when it comes to medical care and first aid, then you may be scared to use the skills you have learned. This is a normal reaction, but tourniquet placement does not need to be exact. Also, it does no good to place a tourniquet on the wound. If direct pressure on the wound itself stops the bleeding, then no tourniquet is necessary. 

Since you want to stop blood flow to the damaged limb, as long as you are stopping the movement of blood through the damaged artery, your tourniquet will be successful. It must be above the wound, but it can be placed one to several inches above it. Tourniquets should not be secured along a joint though, but otherwise a high tourniquet is acceptable. 

If you want to know more about tourniquet use and whether or not you should attempt the treatment or not, speak with a first aid training specialist.