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Strains sprains and breaks

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(Muscle, joint and bone injuries)

It can be impossible to determine in the field whether an injury is a sprain, strain, or break. For this reason, it is vital to always refer the injured person to further qualified care, during or after the action.

Strains Edit

Overexertion, overworking, or tearing of muscles and tendons between joints

  • Signs / Symptoms
swelling; pain; deformity; bruising or discoloration
  • Treat with RICE
  • Send to clinic or recommend aftercare
  • Consider calling EMS if signs/symptoms are severe or if a fracture is suspected

Sprains Edit

Twisting, tearing or stretching of ligaments at the joints

  • Signs / Symptoms
swelling; pain; deformity; discoloration
  • Treat with RICE
  • Send to clinic or aftercare if injured person is mobile (x-rays are recommended)
  • Call for EMS back-up if patient can't be moved

Breaks Edit

Breaking, chipping, cracking, or splintering of a bone

  • Signs / Symptoms
swelling; pain; deformity; discoloration; loss of use; tenderness; exposed bone; loss of distal pulse; numbness and tingling; patient hears sound of break; grating; slow capillary refill
  • Cut away or remove clothing to expose site of injury
    • apply dressing if there is an open wound
    • use direct pressure with extreme caution and only for severe bleeding
    • check for distal pulse
  • Immobilize the extremity
  • Call for back up or insure aftercare
  • Elevate injured extremity if a splint or sling has been applied and there is no spinal or pelvic injury expected
  • Apply cold pack to injury site to control bleeding and reduce swelling and pain
  • Watch for signs/symptoms of shock

RICE Edit

Stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation: four important steps in caring for sprains or strains.

  • Rest means keeping the injury site unused and immobilized
  • Ice means applying cold packs to injury site (15 min. on, 15 min. off)
  • Compression means wrapping the injury site with an Ace bandage
  • Elevation means raising the injury site above the heart.

Capillary refill Edit

A good way to test circulation is to press down on the patient's fingernail and check how long it takes for the color to return. The capillaries under the nails should take less than 2 seconds to replenish.

Aftercare Edit

See Injury aftercare#Sprains / strains.

Notes Edit

This material is intended as a training supplement. Reading this material is no substitute for first aid / medical training with a qualified trainer. We encourage you to pursue ongoing education, reviewing and upgrading your skills-- for the safety of both yourself and anyone you treat.

See List of original sources#Strains sprains and breaks.

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