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Leg Injuries - Home Treatment

First aid for a suspected broken bone

  • Control bleeding camera.gif.
  • Remove all anklets or rings camera.gif. It may be hard to remove the jewelry if your leg or foot swells. Swelling without the removal of jewelry can cause other serious problems, such as compression of nerves or restriction of blood flow.
  • Do not attempt to straighten an injured leg.
  • Splint camera.gif the injured leg to protect it from further injury. Loosen the wrap around the splint if signs develop below the wrap that mean the wrap is too tight, such as numbness, tingling, increased pain, swelling, or cool skin.
  • If a bone is sticking out of the skin, do not try to push it back into the skin. Cover the area with a clean bandage.

Cast and splint care

If a cast or splint is applied, it is important to keep it dry and try to move the uninjured parts of your extremity 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

If your injury does not require an evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Rest and protect an injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
  • Ice will reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day.
    • For the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic beverages.
    • 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 heat and cold treatments.
  • Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, because this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
  • Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling.
  • Remove all rings camera.gif, anklets, or any other jewelry that goes around a leg. It will be harder to remove the jewelry later if swelling increases.
  • Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.
  • Use a crutch or a cane for the 24 to 48 hours after the injury if it makes you more comfortable and supports the injured area. If you feel you need to use a crutch or cane for more than 48 hours, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
  • 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:

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.

Safety tips
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.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 19, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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