St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, is bringing you some simple but lifesaving, first aid tips. This week: recognising and dealing with strains and sprains.

Injuries to the soft tissues around the bones and joints - the ligaments, muscles and tendons – are commonly called strains and sprains. They occur when the tissues are overstretched and partially or completely torn by violent or sudden movements. Strains and sprains should be treated initially following the RICE procedure:

R             –  Rest

I               –  Ice pack

C             –  Comfortable support

E              –  Elevation.

Follow these simple steps to help:

•             The casualty may have pain or tenderness or difficulty in moving the injured part

•             There might be some swelling or bruising around the injured area

•             Help the casualty to sit or lie down and support the injured part in a comfortable position, preferably raised

•             Cool the injured area by applying a cold compress such as an ice pack

•             With the cold compress in place, wrap the area in a layer of soft padding such as cotton wool

•             Secure with a support bandage

•             Support the injured part in a raised position and check circulation underneath the bandage every 10 minutes. If circulation is impaired, loosen the bandage

•             If the pain is severe or the casualty cannot move or use the injured part, arrange to take or send them to hospital, otherwise advise the casualty to rest and to seek medical advice if necessary.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones, and the website offers demo videos and lots of free advice.

Article supplied by Kate Rutsch