a. Signs and Symptoms. A sprain does not cause a deformed appearance
since the bones are not out of their normal positions. A sprain causes pain
(tenderness), swelling, and discoloration (bruise) at the injured joint. The casualty may
be unable to move the joint due to pain.
Do not ask the casualty to move the body part in order to test for inability
to move the joint.
b. Treatment. Treat the sprain as though it were a closed fracture.
Immobilize the joint.
Reduce swelling by elevating the joint and applying cold, if available.
Apply cold during the first 24 hours following the injury. After this time, apply
warmth to the injured area.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of the muscle tissues around a joint. It is
usually caused by excessive effort such as overstretching or overexertion. It is
commonly called a "muscle pull."
a. Signs and Symptoms. A strain does not result in a deformed appearance.
Swelling may or may not be present. Muscle spasms may be present. A strain can
cause pain when the joint is moved.
b. Treatment. Have the casualty avoid putting weight on the injured joint. If you
are unsure whether the injury is a strain or sprain, treat it as a sprain.