Most minor injuries will heal on
their own, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your
symptoms and promote healing. But if you suspect that you have a more severe
injury, use first aid measures while you arrange for an evaluation by your
First aid for a suspected broken bone
If a bone is sticking out of your skin, do not
try to push it back into your skin. It is better to leave the bone alone and
cover the area with a clean bandage.
Remove all rings, bracelets, watches,
or any other jewelry from the injured arm immediately. It may be hard to
remove the jewelry if swelling occurs, which in turn can cause other serious
problems, such as nerve compression or restricted blood flow.
Splint your injured arm without trying to straighten
it. Loosen the wrap around the splint if you develop signs that indicate the
wrap is too tight, such as numbness, tingling, increased pain, swelling, or
cool skin below the wrap. A problem called
compartment syndrome can develop.
If a cast or splint is applied, it is important to keep it
dry and to try to move the uninjured part of your arm as normally as possible
to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor will give you
instructions on how to
care for your cast or splint.
Home treatment for a minor injury
Home treatment may
help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Remove all rings, bracelets, watches,
or any other jewelry that goes around your wrist or fingers of the injured arm.
It will be more difficult to remove the jewelry later if swelling increases.
sling for the first 48 hours after the injury if it
makes you more comfortable and supports the injured area. If you feel you need
to use a sling for more than 48 hours, discuss your symptoms with your
An elbow support, such as an elbow sleeve, forearm wrap, or
arm sling, may help rest your elbow joint, relieve
stress on your forearm muscles, and protect your joint during activity. A
counterforce brace may be helpful for tennis elbow
symptoms. Follow the manufacturer's directions for using the
Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage
blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.
the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling,
such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic
After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply
heat and begin
gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help
restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between
hot and cold treatments.
If applying ice to your elbow does not
reduce the swelling, talk with your doctor about hydrocortisone gel treatments
(phonophoresis) with a physical therapist.
Start exercises using
the MSA process (gentle exercise). MSA stands for movement, strength, and
Movement. Resume a
full range of motion as soon as possible after an injury. After 24 to 48 hours
of rest, begin moving the injured area. Stop any activity if it causes pain, and
give the injured area more rest. Gentle stretching will prevent the formation
of scar tissue that may decrease movement.
Strength. Once the swelling is gone and range of motion is
restored, begin gradual efforts to strengthen the injured area. Hand grip
exercises can help you regain elbow strength. Using a small ball, such as an
old tennis ball, squeeze the ball 20 to 25 times holding each squeeze for about
5 seconds. After 2 to 3 weeks of hand grip exercises, you may begin forearm
exercises of extending or bending the elbow.
Alternate activities. After the first few days but while the
injury is still healing, slowly add in regular exercise, such as activities or
sports that do not place a strain on the injured area. If certain activities
cause pain, stop doing those activities but continue doing your other
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue
repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Aspirin (also a nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drug), such as Bayer or Bufferin
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.