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Limb injuries

A limb injury is any injury to a limb, either a leg or arm, or to their toes and fingers.

Limb injuries include:

  • broken bones (cracked or fractured bones, for example a broken arm)
  • dislocations (when a bone has been moved or dislodged, for example a dislocated shoulder)
  • sprains (injuries to ligaments, for example a sprained ankle)
  • strains (injuries to muscles, for example a strained thigh)
  • nail injuries (injuries to toenails and fingernails, for example a stubbed toe)
  • bruises (coloured marks caused by bleeding under the skin due to an impact)

Limb injury causes

There are many different causes of limb injuries. These range from sports to manual labour to simple trips and falls.

Serious limb injuries, such as broken bones and dislocations, can be caused by contact with a large force (such as a blow to the body) or a heavy fall.

More minor limb injuries can result when a muscle or ligament moves beyond its normal range (for example when you go over on your ankle), or when there is an impact on the body (for example stubbing your toe or slamming your finger in a door).

If you are unsure of the cause of your limb pain, it is a good idea to consult a doctor.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists recommend that X-rays are not necessary for all ankle injuries. Discuss with your doctor whether you will need an X-ray. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your limb injury, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Last reviewed: August 2017

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