Merck Manual

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Soft-Tissue Injuries


Amy H. Kaji

, MD, PhD, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
Topic Resources

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 Overview of Dislocations A dislocation is complete separation of the bones that form a joint. In subluxation, the bones in a joint are partly out of position. Often, a dislocated joint remains dislocated until it is... read more ), partial separation of bones that were attached within a joint (subluxation), fracture Overview of Fractures A fracture is a crack or break in a bone. Most fractures result from force applied to a bone. Fractures usually result from injuries or overuse. The injured part hurts (especially when it is... read more Overview of Fractures , severe sprain Overview of Sprains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries Sprains are tears in ligaments (tissues that connect one bone to another). Other soft-tissue injuries include tears in muscles (strains) and tears (ruptures) in tendons (tissues that connect... read more Overview of Sprains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries or strain, or other severe injury. People with severe symptoms usually need medical care to determine the nature of the injury.

First-Aid Treatment

Contusions, mild strains, and mild sprains can be treated at home with protection rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE Initial treatment Sports injuries are common among athletes and other people who participate in sports. Certain injuries that are traditionally considered sports injuries can also occur in people who do not participate... read more 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.

Commonly Used Splints

A splint can be anything that prevents movement of a limb. A splint is used to prevent further damage and limit pain. To be effective, a splint must immobilize the joints above and below the injury.

Splints can be made from readily available objects, such as a magazine or stack of newspapers. But splints usually consist of a rigid, straight object, such as a board, strapped to the limb. A sling may be used with a splint to support the forearm when an arm, a wrist, or a collarbone is injured.

Commonly Used Splints
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