(3) Reduce swelling by elevating the joint and applying cold (a cold pack or
ice compress), if available, for the first 24 hours after the musculoskeletal injury. After
24 hours, heat or warm soaks should be used to facilitate blood circulation to the injured
A sprain results when the ligaments connecting two bones are stretched or torn.
Other tissues surrounding the joint may also be damaged. A sprain usually results
when a joint is suddenly twisted beyond its normal range of motion. Skiing accidents
often result in sprains. Sprains are most common in the knees and ankles. A sprain
can result from a temporary dislocation in which the bones resume their normal position
following the injury. A sprain may produce as much damage as a dislocation.
a. Signs and Symptoms. A sprain does not cause a deformed appearance
since the bones are not out of their normal positions. A sprain causes pain
(tenderness), swelling, and discoloration (bruise) at the injured joint. The casualty may
be unable to move the joint due to pain.
Do not ask the casualty to move the injured body part in order to test for
joint pain or immobility.
b. Treatment. Treat the sprain as though it were a closed fracture.
Immobilize the joint.
(2) Reduce swelling by elevating the joint and applying cold, if available,
during the first 24 hours following the injury. After this time, apply warmth to promote
blood circulation to the injured area.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of the muscle tissues around a joint. It is
usually caused by excessive effort such as overstretching or overexertion. It is
commonly called a "muscle pull."
a. Signs and Symptoms. A strain does not result in a deformed appearance.
Swelling may or may not be present. Muscle spasms may be present. A strain can
cause pain when the joint is moved.
b. Treatment. Have the casualty avoid putting weight on the injured joint. If you
are unsure whether the injury is a strain or sprain, treat it as a sprain.
Continue with Exercises
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