First Aid – Sprains and Strains.

The information in the blog about sprains and strains is for information purposes only. If you want to learn about sprains and strains and receive hands on training, take a standard first aid course in Vancouver with Vancouver First Aid.

The human body’s stucture is created by the bones of the body. Joints are formed were two bones meet and allow for flexibility and movement.  A band of strong tissues called ligaments hold the joints together.

A sprain is caused when the tough ligaments are overstretched or overextended. When overextended the muscles surrounding the area tighten to prevent further injury. If the twist, hit or fall that caused the sprain is significant enough, it can cause the bones to move out of place leading to dislocations. DO NOT attempt to place a dislocation back into its proper place. This can cause severe injury and permanent damage in the area.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are associated with repetitive straining of ligaments over prolonged periods of time. Constant repitition of a movement can lead to stress on the ligaments and tissues causing development of repetitive strain injuries. Common repetitive strain injuries are “tennis elbow” and “carpal tunnel syndrome”. The best treatment for RSI is to follow the same treatment as to any strain using “RICE”.

A strain is caused by overstretching or overextension of a muscle. When this occurs, the victim’s muscles in the surrounding area will tighten in order to prevent further harm. The symptoms to strains are exactly the same as for a sprain. Treatment for a strain is the same as for a sprain. Use “RICE” to treat the strain.

Signs and Symptoms of sprains and strains include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discolouration (bruising)
  • Difficulty moving the area.

The Treatment to Sprains and Strains is defined by the acronym “RICE”

Rest – to prevent further injury and promote healing, the victim must rest the area.

Immobilize – to prevent further injury, immediately after the injury, immobolize the joint especially when dislocations or possible fractures are involved.

Cold – to reduce the swelling, ice the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes every hour until swelling subsides. This process can take several days.  You can make a make shift ice pack by taking a plastic bag, filling it with ice and sealing the bag. To avoid injury or damage to nerves, the victim can place the ice or cold pack within a cloth. Avoid icing or cooling the area for more than 15 minutes.

Elevate – DO NOT ELEVATE the injury if it causes pain or discomfort. However, if there is not pain or discomfort it can promote more healing.

Tell the victim to seek medical attention for a follow-up.

Causes of Sprains and Strains.

  • No or poor warm up prior to physical activity
  • Poor lifting form when doing exercise or lifting.
  • Sudden, quick movements
  • Repetitive movments (see RSI’s)


  • Sprains can happen throughout the body but are most common at the ankle and wrists.
  • Other less popular areas for sprains are: fingers, toes and knees.
  • Diagnosis of a sprain cane be made by a physical examination or an x-ray.
  • If it hurts, do not move it, it is our body’s way of telling us to not injure the area. Listen to your body.
  • Do not place a dislocated joint back into its place. A rescuer without proper training can cause significant damage to the area when placing a joint back in. Contact E.M.S. when a dislocation occurs.

To learn more about sprains and strains take  first aid training. In a first aid course, candidates will learn hands on training and learn immobilization techniques for sprains and strains. Take a first aid course today to learn first aid.