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Your arms and legs contain bones (hard tissue) and muscle and ligaments (soft tissue).Your soft tissue has been injured, but not your bone. But just like a broken bone, this will take time to get better.
• Rest your injured arm/leg in a high position. For example, if you have injured your arm, rest with it higher than your shoulder. If you have injured your leg, rest with it higher than your hip.
• Take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol (both available from a pharmacy or chemist) for the pain. Please take these medicines according to manufacturer’s instructions. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.
• Regularly move your injured arm/leg as far as you can in all directions. Repeat each movement 10 times every hour. If the movement hurts you, try to make the movements smaller.
• If you are given a support bandage, apply it firmly. If your fingers or toes go blue, take it off at once.
If you are not getting better after 1 week, make an appointment to see your GP. If you have been given crutches, please bring them back when you can walk without them. You can leave them at the Emergency Department (ED) reception desk at any time. This will allow other patients to benefit and save the NHS money.
Ice reduces the pain by decreasing swelling, muscle spasm and joint stiffness. If ice is used immediately following injury and up to 48 hours after, it should only be applied for 10 minutes at a time. It restricts the amount of blood to the area and limits the amount of swelling formed. If ice is used after 48-hours post-injury, it should be applied for up to 15 – 20 minutes. The effect it has after 8 minutes is to increase the amount of blood to the area, helping to pump away swelling that has already formed.
Ice may cause a burn if used incorrectly so follow the instructions below.
Method 1 – for a large area
Wrap a bag of frozen peas or some ice cubes in a cold damp tea towel. Position yourself so that you are comfortable and well supported. Rub a small amount of baby oil onto the area – this prevents a burn. Place the ice pack over the area. The skin will appear pink when you have finished.
Method 2 – for a small area
Wrap one end of an ice cube in a tissue. Rub a small amount of baby oil over the area. Massage the area with the ice cube until it becomes pink. Alternatively you can freeze water in a polystyrene cup, cut the bottom off and use as an ice massage stick with the polystyrene acting as a hand grip.
Ice should be applied after exercising and can be applied up to every hour if your joints are very swollen and painful. Please note – if you have any heart problems do not put ice on your left shoulder or left side of your neck.
If you have any further queries, please contact:
• Emergency Department: 01908 995 913 ext. 2409 between 9am and 10 pm
• Hospital switchboard: 01908 660033 between 10pm and 9am
• Call NHS 111
• Your GP surgery