How to Field Treat an Injury

How to Field Treat an InjuryIt doesn’t matter what activity you are involved in or how the injury is incurred, most injuries can be treated immediately in the field. Sudden overstretching a muscle can result in acute muscle injury in the field or at home. Minor injuries, however, do not require a doctor’s help in treating. They can be treated in the wilderness with the right knowledge and supplies.

Simple injuries include:

Ankle Sprain 

This is very common with hiking and the sprained ankle mostly occurs when the foot turns inward, this tear or stretches the ligaments at the outer part of the ankle since they are relatively weak. The sprain is treatable with exercise so as to prevent losing flexibility and strength on the ankle and also prevent re-injury.

Foot blisters

nwlwbnrThese are caused by friction and skin irritation. Using poorly fitting hiking shoes and wet socks are common causes of foot blisters. If you can’t prevent it using two layers of socks or liner socks then apply moleskin to the blister-prone area to prevent and treat it while still in the field so as to continue with your outdoors activity.

Hamstring Strain

The hamstring formed by the muscles at the back of the thigh can be strained if they are overstretched when one kicks out the legs sharply when running or playing around in the campsite when undertaking some group outdoor activity, it is also very common when one falls forward while water skiing.

These are however hard to heal and can take about six to twelve months since there is constant stress applied to the injuries by walking. Re-injuries commonly occur due to the inability to relax especially if it happen on top of the mountain and one has to walk down to where transport can be arranged or to a base camp for rest and heal. This healing period can be made shorter when it is initially treated in the field without waiting.


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Shin Splints

This causes pains on the front of the lower legs commonly brought about by running mostly when beginning a strenuous training regime like running long distances on a paved road or uphill riding a mountain bike.

The best field treatment here is applying ice, rest and taking some over-the-counter pain relief medication and the injury will fade away. It is usually a small issue caused by a small break in the shinbone, but if the pain persists then seeing a doctor is recommended who may prescribe resting for a month or more.

Cuts

Whether you got snagged on some brush or you accidentally hooked yourself while crappie fishing, getting cut is never fun. And in the wilderness it can lead to infection.  In this case, the first action is to stop the bleeding then apply ice to keep it from swelling.

A gauze pad can be used after the ice to compress the wound and elevate it; if it’s too large then stitching may be required. For facial lacerations, to avoid the victim overreacting due to lots of blood oozing, help them keep calm then put a towel over the injured part and keep the injured person away from everyone if possible so the victim does not go into shock.


Related reading: Treating wounds with sugar and honey


Using the PRICE principle to treat an injury

This technique is commonly used to help injured get back to the field activities faster and keep from re-injury. It is important to note that swelling is a normal response to field injuries but excessive swelling should raise the alarm as it reduces the range of motion one can make and interfere with healing. When injured in the field, start managing it by using the price method as described:

Protect – ensure there is adequate protection from further injury and if there is a severe injury, this area should be protected with a splint, crutch or pad.

Restrict – restricting activity is one way of preventing the injury from worsening hence facilitating quick healing.

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Ice – ice can be applied to the injured area to prevent further swelling. It is usually referred to as the miracle drug in sports and outdoor activities since it’s an anti-inflammatory solution without many side effects. It can be applied for 20 minutes every one or two hours in the first 48 hours after receiving the injury, avoid heat at this initial stage as it encourages inflammation.

Compression – apply this using an elastic bandage to help reduce the swelling.

Elevate – the injured area should be placed in an elevated position in relation to the rest of the body, especially the heart to prevent swelling as the blood pressure will be reduced at the injured area.

 

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