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First Aid for Sprains and Strains

Image of responder assisting casualty with a sprained ankle

  • Treat any musculoskeletal injuries as a possible fracture if the injury could be more than a sprain or strain.

First Aid / Treatment

  • First aid for common sprains and strains include; (R) rest, (I) ice, (C) compression, and (E) elevation. (known as RICE):
    1. Rest-Rest the injured part of the body, limiting movement and activity. Try to get the casualty in a comfortable sitting or lying position.
    2. Ice-Apply ice or cold packs to the injured area with a towel or cloth between the ice and skin for at least 20 minutes. Repeat every few hours for the first 24-48 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Do not apply ice directly to skin.
    3. Compression-Place an elastic compression bandage around the injury for at least 2 days to help aid in the reduction of the swelling.
    4. Elevation-Elevate the injured area above heart level as often as possible for the first several days to continue to aid in the reduction of the swelling.
  • Do not apply heat to the injury for at least the first 24 hours; heat increases blood flow to the area, causing more swelling and pain. Heat can be applied after the initial 24-48 hours and may help with the healing and comfort of the injury.

Content excerpted from the Urgent First Aid Guide used by permission Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved. Get a full copy of the First Aid Guide for under $1!

Learn the Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Musculoskeletal Injuries in a case where head, neck or spinal injury is suspected. Find out about LIVE OSHA Standard First Aid & Emergency Care at your location... check out American CPR Training™

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