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Soft-tissue injuries include bumps and bruises (contusions) and small tears of muscles (minor strains) or of ligaments and tendons near joints (minor sprains).
Contusions, mild strains, and mild sprains cause mild to moderate pain and swelling. The swelling can become discolored, turning purple after a day and becoming yellow or brown days later. The person usually can continue using the body part. People with more severe symptoms, such as deformity, an inability to walk or use an injured part, or severe pain, may have a complete separation of bones that were attached within a joint (dislocation), partial separation of bones that were attached within a joint (subluxation), fracture (see see Overview of Fractures, Dislocations, and Sprains), severe sprain or strain, or other severe injury. People with severe symptoms usually need medical care to determine the nature of the injury.
Commonly Used Splints
Contusions, mild strains, and mild sprains can be treated at home with r est, i ce, c ompression, and e levation (RICE—see see Initial treatment), which speeds recovery and decreases pain and swelling. If a fracture, severe strain, severe sprain, subluxation (partial dislocation), or dislocation is a possibility, a splint should be applied until medical help is available.
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