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Limb injury treatments

Cover any bleeding with a clean cloth or bandage, and apply consistent pressure to stop the bleeding.

If you are in pain, you may take simple painkillers (for example paracetamol, ibuprofen).

Follow the ‘RICE’ method to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

  • Rest the injured area.
  • Ice the area for 20 minutes, using a covered icepack or bag of frozen peas. Repeat every two to three hours for up to two to three days.
  • Compress the area with a bandage (but if the pain gets worse, loosen the bandage).
  • Elevate the limb. Sit or lie down, and prop the limb up (for example with pillows), so it is above the level of the heart.

Nail injuries should be washed then covered with a sterile, non-stick dressing. See a doctor if there is a lot of blood under the nail, or if there are signs of infection like pain, swelling, redness or pus.

When to get help

See a doctor if:

  • you think you may have a broken bone or dislocation (DO NOT attempt to straighten or move a bone that appears out of place or misshapen)
  • you think you may have nerve or blood vessel damage (see Limb injury symptoms)
  • your injury does not get better in time.

Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice if your symptoms get worse, you develop new symptoms, or if you are concerned and unsure what to do.

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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