What to Do for a Sprain, Dislocation or Fracture?

Injuries to bones, joints, and muscles are common and can affect anyone. These injuries often occur during physical activities, accidents, or sudden trauma. Understanding the types of injuries, recognizing their symptoms, and knowing how to provide first aid can significantly improve outcomes. This article explores sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures, offering descriptions and first aid steps to manage these situations effectively. Whether you're an athlete, a parent, or simply want to be prepared, learning about these injuries and their management is essential for ensuring prompt and proper care. Join us to become better equipped to handle these emergencies.

Types of Injuries to Bones, Joints, and Muscles

Injuries to bones, joints, and muscles are common and can manifest in various forms, each requiring specific attention.

  1. Sprain: A sprain occurs when a ligament, the tissue connecting bones to joints, is stretched or torn. It often happens when a joint is forced into an unnatural position.
  2. Strain: A strain involves muscles or tendons, the tissues connecting muscles to bones. Strains occur when these tissues are stretched or torn. It is often due to excessive or forceful contraction.
  3. Dislocation: In a joint or bone dislocation, the extremity of one or more bones is forcefully displaced from its normal position within the joint socket. This can result from trauma or injury, causing significant pain and immobility.
  4. Fracture: A fracture is a break or crack in a bone. Fractures can range from mild to severe and occur due to trauma, falls, or overuse. They are typically classified as open (the bone breaks the skin) or closed (the skin remains intact).
Types of Injuries to Bones, Joints, and Muscles

NOTE: If the injured body part hurts, the person should avoid using it until checked by a healthcare provider.

Signs and Symptoms of a Possible Broken Bone or Sprain

Quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of a possible broken bone or sprain to provide timely and appropriate first aid:

  1. Pain or tenderness at the site of the injury.
  2. Redness or warmth at the site of the injury.
  3. Swelling or bruising around the injured area.
  4. Difficulty moving or using the affected limb.
  5. Deformity or misalignment of the bone.
  6. Inability to bear weight on the injured limb.
  7. Numbness or tingling in the affected limb.
  8. Visible bone protruding through the skin (in cases of open fracture).
  9. Loss of function or range of motion in the injured area.

NOTE: Without an X-ray, it may be impossible to tell whether a bone is broken, dislocated, or if the injury is a sprain. Either way, you'll take the same first-aid actions.

How to Help a Person with a Possible Broken Bone or Sprain

Follow these first aid action steps for a person with a possible broken bone or sprain:

  1. Make sure the scene is safe: Ensure your safety and the safety of the individual. Clear the area of any sharp or harmful objects to prevent injury.
  2. Get the first aid kit: Ask someone to bring the first aid kit.
  3. Recognize the emergency: Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a possible broken bone or sprain and understand when the situation requires immediate medical attention.
  4. Keep the person still: Advise the injured person not to move the injured limb to prevent further damage.
  5. Stop potential severe bleeding: If there are open wounds with severe bleeding, apply pressure to stop the bleed and cover the wound.
  6. Apply cold compress:
    1. Put a towel on top of the injured body part.
    2. Place a bag filled with ice and water (or an ice pack) on top of the towel over the injured area.
    3. Keep the ice in place for up to 20 minutes
  7. Immobilize the injured limb: immobilize using a splint or sling to prevent further movement.
  8. Maintain body temperature: If you recognize the signs of shock, cover the person with a blanket to keep them warm.
  9. Provide comfort: Reassure the person and keep them calm while waiting for medical help to arrive.
  10. Seek medical assistance if:
    1. There is a large open wound, and the injured body part is abnormally bent.
    2. You're not sure what to do.
  11. Monitor and Stay:
    1. If the person becomes unresponsive, quickly check their breathing.
    2. If the person is not breathing normally, begin CPR.
    3. Stay with the victim until someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over.
first aid action steps forbroken bone or sprain

NOTE: Putting ice on the hurt area helps with swelling, keeping the injury still prevents more harm, and getting professional medical help ensures proper care.

What is a Splint?

A splint is a medical device used to support and immobilize an injured or fractured body part, typically a bone or joint. Its primary purpose is to minimize pain and the risk of further injury until more advanced medical care can be administered.

Splints can be applied to limbs, fingers, or other body parts, depending on the nature and location of the injury. They come in various forms, including rigid structures, soft materials, or a combination of both.

NOTE: If you don't have a pre-made splint, look for any object that can immobilize the injured arm or leg. Rolled-up towels, magazines, or pieces of wood can serve as makeshift splints.

Actions to Apply a Splint

Follow these first-aid action steps to apply a splint:

  1. Make sure the scene is safe: Before approaching the victim, assess the scene for any potential hazards to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
  2. Assess the injury: Determine the extent of the injury and whether it requires immobilization with a splint.
  3. Get the first aid kit: Prepare the necessary materials, including a splint, padding, bandages, and scissors.
  4. Position the Limb: Support the injured limb in its current position to prevent further damage or pain.
  5. Apply Padding: If you're using a hard splint, like wood, place soft padding around the injured area to provide cushioning and protection.
  6. Apply the Splint: Secure the splint along the length of the injured limb, ensuring it is snug but not too tight.The splint should be longer than the injured area and should support the joints above and below the injury.
  7. Secure the Splint: Use bandages or straps to secure the splint in place, taking care not to cut off circulation.
  8. Check Circulation: Regularly check for signs of impaired circulation, such as numbness or tingling, and adjust the splint if necessary.
  9. Keep the limb still: Advise the injured person not to move the injured limb until the injured person can be seen by a healthcare provider.
  10. Provide Comfort: Offer reassurance and support to the individual, and encourage them to remain still and calm.
  11. Seek Medical Attention: Advise the individual to seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment.
Actions to Apply a Splint

NOTE: If a broken bone has come through the skin or is bent, it should not be straightened. The injury needs to be protected until someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over.

Actions to Take to Self-Splint an Arm

If you don't have anything to use as a splint, a person can use his other arm to hold the injured one in place. Have the injured person place his hand across his chest and hold it in place with his other arm.


Understanding injuries to bones, joints, and muscles, and knowing how to manage them is crucial for everyone. These injuries are common and can occur unexpectedly during everyday activities. By recognizing the signs and symptoms and applying appropriate first aid measures, you can significantly improve the recovery process and prevent further complications. Remember to keep the injured person still, use cold compresses, and seek professional medical assistance when needed. With the knowledge and skills outlined in this article, you'll be better prepared to handle these types of injuries effectively and provide essential care in emergencies. Stay informed, stay prepared, and ensure safety for yourself and those around you.

    Join us and Get First Aid CPR AED Certified.

    If you wanna learn how to respond to sprains and strains amongst many other medical emergencies, you are welcome to join our American Heart Association® First Aid CPR AED course at our academy in Silom Bangkok. You will receive an international certification that is valid for 2 years. For more information about this course please contact us.

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