Sprains and Strains

When assessing the patient, if there is a lot of pain at the injury site, treat the injury as a fracture and seek immediate medical attention. But while waiting for help, you may do these steps:

First Aid for strains and sprains

1. Monitor the patient’s lifeline (DRABC) as needed

2. Follow the RICE First Aid treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

3. Seek medical attention if pain is severe (See Broken Bone)

“RICE” Treatment

1. R – Rest
Have the patient lie down and rest their injury. Ask them not to move or put any pressure on the injured area.

2. I – Ice
Apply a cold compress immediately to the injured area. Wrap an ice block or packet of frozen vegetables or a plastic zip-lock bag with ice and water in a clean cloth or towel and apply to the injured area for 15 minutes every 2 hours for the first 24 hours. Then 15 minutes every 4 hours for the next 24 hours. The ice helps to reduce swelling around the injury.

3. C – Compression
Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area. Apply it firmly, without cutting off circulation to the injury. Cover as much of the injury site as possible. This also assists in reducing the swelling.

4. E – Elevation
Elevate the injured area above the level of the patient’s heart. Have them lie down and prop their arm or leg above their chest with comfortable support then seek medical attention as soon as possible.

The difference: Strains are heightened types of injuries that result from overstretching or over contraction with symptoms experienced like pain, weakness, and muscle spasms. Strains are the results from trauma as experienced from a fall or that inflicted by an outside source thereby displacing from its normal position the adjoining joints. Sprains can vary and can be as mild as a mere ligament stretch to a complete and total tear. Symptoms include bruising, swelling, instability, and painful movement.

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