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First Aid at Sea how to deal with strains and sprains

First Aid at Sea – strains and sprains

Strains and sprains respond well to rest and cooling. Wrap ice in a tea towel before applying.

First Aid at Sea

Strains and sprains are relatively common onboard boats.

This may be due to the fact that the boat is pitching and rolling, also there are often trip hazards.

Just to be clear a strain is muscle damage and sprain is damage to a joint such as the wrist or ankle.

The signs and symptoms of a strain or sprain are:

• A sudden movement to the part of the body
• Pain
• Swelling
• Bruising around the joint or muscle
• Difficulty moving the limb

Beware that these signs and symptoms are very similar to a fracture. If you are unsure whether a crew member has a sprain, strain or fracture it may be better to treat the injury as a fracture.

You can use the acronym of RICE to remember how to treat a sprain or strain.

R
Rest

I
Ice

C
Comfortable support such as an elasticized bandage

E
Elevate

First Aid at Sea

Elevate the injury and rest it.

 

Most sprains and strains will respond to rest and cooling the injury. So there will probably be no need for a Mayday or PanPan, although your crew member may appreciate making for the port of refuge so they can rest up on land.

Don’t put ice directly on the injury, put the ice in a tea towel first. It is recommended that the ice stays on the injury for no longer than 20 minutes.

If you don’t have access to ice on your boat a towel soaked in cold water and wrung out can work well also.

(from the First Aid Afloat app by Paul Hopkins)

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