Sprains and Strains
FIRST AID FACT SHEET
How to provide first aid for sprains and strains
A sprain is a severe wrench or twist of the ligaments, such as an ankle, wrist or another joint, that causes pain and swelling.
A strain is a force tending to pull or stretch muscles or tendons causing damage.
It can be difficult to tell whether the injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain or strain. If in doubt, always treat it as a fracture.
What to do
- Follow DRSABCD St John Action Plan.
- Rest and reassure the casualty.
- Manage as a fracture if any doubt.
- Follow the RICE management plan:
- REST the casualty and the injured part.
- ICEPACK (cold compress) for fifteen (15) minutes.
- COMPRESSION bandage after the icepack – apply firmly and extend well beyond the injury.
- ELEVATE the limb.
- Wrap icepack in a damp cloth.
- Apply to the injured site for fifteen (15) minutes and then reapply every two (2) hours for first twenty-four (24) hours.
- Never apply ice directly to the skin or onto an open wound. If no ice is available use a cloth wrung out in cold water – this will need replacing every ten (10) minutes.
- Seek medical attention if in doubt or if no improvement after RICE.
- Falling and landing on arm.
- Fall on the side of the foot.
- Twisting a joint.
Signs and symptoms
- Loss of power.
- Muscle spasm.