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Chapter 11: Muscle, Bone And Joint Emergencies


This emergency occurs when a muscle, bone or joint moves in a direction that it is not supposed to go. This movement can lead to broken bones, sprains, fractures and other injuries.

  •  Falling, tripping
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Running, walking, exercise
  • Sports, physical activity
  • Sudden impact
Signs and Symptoms:
  •  Bruising and swelling
  • Bone fragment(s) sticking out
  • Coldness, numbness
  • Discoloration (blue)
  • Deformity
  • Inability to use the affected part normally
  • Pain
  • Snapping or popping sound at time of injury
Common Emergency Example(s):
Fracture / Broken Bone:

A fracture is a complete break, a chip or a crack in the bone. An open fracture involves an open wound, and is when a bone end tears through the skin. An open fracture is more dangerous and severe. However, a closed fracture is more common.



A dislocation is the movement of a bone at a joint from its normal position. When the bone is moved out of place, the joint no longer functions. Usually, dislocations happen at the shoulder, elbow, wrist, jaw and hip.

Sprain / Strain:

A sprain is the tearing of the ligaments at a joint. Sprains mostly occur at the ankle, knee, wrist and fingers. A strain is the stretching and tearing of a muscle. They usually occur in the neck, back, thigh, or the back of the lower leg.

Use RICE method when dealing with a sprain or strain:

patient tying the crepe bandage around the sprained ankle


Do not move or straighten the injury.


Try to stabilize the person in the position he/she was found. Splint or sling the injured part only and use caution if moving the person.


Indirectly cool the part using ice for up to 20 minutes.


Only elevate the part if it does not cause more pain.

First Aid Actions / Treatment:
  1. Assess the scene and check for your safety.
  2. Get a First Aid kit and wear personal protective equipment.
  3. Apply a clean dressing on any open wounds. Don’t move any body part that
    is deformed or bent (fractured).
  4. If person is experiencing:
    • Closed Fracture / Dislocation: keep injured area still; apply a light padding underneath injured area and apply a broad sling; tie the affected part with another limb of the body or another body part to keep it sturdy from movement
    • Sprain / Strain: place a cold pack or a plastic bag filled with water and ice on a towel and then on the injured area (up to 20 minutes); use RICE method detailed above
  5. Activate EMS (Call 9-1-1) if the open wound is large.