Category Archives: First Aid Injury Assessment

lower back pain

Remedies for lower back pain

Lower back pain is a condition that causes pain in the muscles, bones and nerves of the back. The pain can be dull to severe and can last less than 6 weeks. Pain can be felt below the ribs and above the legs. Lifting, reaching and twisting can cause pain in the back.

Symptoms of lower back pain

  • Pain when lifting, forward bending and twisting of the body
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Pain when raising the leg, sitting and standing
  • Pain spreads down the leg or sciatica


Remedies for lower back pain
The pain can be dull to severe and can last less than 6 weeks.
  • Herniated disc
  • Sprain or strains on the lower back
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Increased weight during pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Incorrect sleeping position
  • Poor posture
  • Poor physical condition
  • Medical conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids


  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected area. Avoid activities that cause further irritations on the area. Perform gentle exercises such as walking or climbing stairs to stimulate proper flow of blood and loosen irritated nerves or spinal joints.
  • Apply cold compress on the lower back for at least 10-15 minutes every hour to lessen the inflammation and the pain.
  • Compress the lower back using cold therapy and use an elastic bandage to support it and to stop build up of inflammation.
  • Apply moist heat on the area for at least 20 minutes to increase flow of blood and loosen tight muscles and other soft tissues. Put herbal bags inside the microwave for a couple of minute and then apply it directly on the lower back while lying or sitting down. Cover the bags in a towel to insulate it and retain heat before placing to the area.
  • Prescribed over-the-counter pain medications to lessen the inflammations and the pain.
  • Sleep in a fetal position with hips and knees bent and the supine position and legs placed in couple of pillows. These two positions of sleeping lessen pressure placed on the joint of the lower back and lessen the irritations and the pain.
  • Perform rehabilitation exercises with the help of the physical therapist for strengthening and stretching exercise for the lower back to lessen the pain and restore range of movement of the affected area.


Metatarsalgia – Overuse Injury Of The Foot

Metatarsalgia is an injury also known as stone bruise. The inflammation, pain and swelling are usually felt on the metatarsals of the foot (commonly known as balls of the foot), including its joints and bones. Metatarsals are the small, round bones in the foot below the big toe and two middle toes.   Although the largest metatarsal under the big toe is commonly affected, other smaller bones can also suffer from stone bruise.

Who Are Commonly Affected By This Injury?

People engaged in extreme physical activities with too much use of the foot are the ones who usually suffer from metatarsalgia. Athletes (particularly runners and gymnasts), who perform high impact jumping, running and twisting of the foot, are more likely to experience this kind of overuse injury. However, there are times when tight-fitted shoes or underlying medical condition can also cause metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia is also common among male athletes, but middle-aged females, who usually wear high-heels, can also suffer from this condition.

The pain felt on the foot vary depending on the severity of the pressure or impact received by the foot; sometimes only a portion of the foot feels the pain, but there are instances when the entire foot is affected. When too much weight is put on the foot, it can worsen the symptoms of metatarsalgia – such as when walking, prolonged standing, running, or high-jumping.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Metatarsalgia?

  • Pain ranging from mild to severe
  • Different pain characteristics – burning, sharp, aching, localized on a part of the foot or generalized on the entire foot
  • Increasing pain severity when walking, standing, or moving about
  • Diminishing pain when weight is removed from the foot, such as when sitting or lying down
Sitting while resting can help relieve the weight and pressure on the foot.
Sitting while resting can help relieve the weight and pressure on the foot.

These symptoms usually vary from one person to another. In addition, they may either develop abruptly or slowly, depending on the activities and weight received by the injured foot.

First Aid Options For Metatarsalgia

  • Rest can help relieve pain and relax the foot from overuse
  • Ice application can help decrease swelling and minimize pain
  • Avoid too much work, pressure or exercise on the foot if pain is already noticed on the metatarsals
  • Pain relievers may be prescribed if pain is intolerable.
  • When to Seek Medical Care? If the pain does not subside after a couple of days rest or the foot becomes more swollen even after taking medications. There may be underlying reasons for the injury so it is important to seek medical supervision as soon as possible.

Related Video On Metatarsalgia:

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“Metatarsalgia Introduction.” Web MD. Retrieved online on August 18, 2014 from

“Metatarsalgia Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved online on August 18, 2014 from


What Is The Difference Between A Strain And A Sprain?

Both sprain and strain are injuries to the bones and muscles, and these words are often used interchangeably.  But it is important to know that these two types of musculo-skeletal injuries are different from each other. Let us discuss the differences between a strain and a sprain below.

Sprain versus Strain

Sprain injuries are caused by the tearing or stretching of the ligament, a kind of tissue that connects the bones to the joints. The main function of the joint is to provide stability and balance, so when the ligament is damaged or injured it can result to joint instability and pain. The symptoms of a sprain include inflammation or swelling, pain and inability to move the affected part (such as the legs, foot or arms). Sprains happen when too much force is received by the joints, such as when turning or twisting the body without moving the feet or when landing from a hard fall or on an awkward position.

Strains, on the other hand, are caused by tearing or over stretching of the muscles and tendons. Strain injuries involving the muscles and tendons usually happen at the part of the muscles that is connected to the tendons. These kind of injuries usually occur when the muscle is instantly stretched and then contracted, such as during jumping or running. The common site of injury of strains is in the hamstring muscles; runners are usually affected by it, especially when they are running at full speed. Similar to sprain, the common symptom of strain is pain and swelling in the affected muscle. Other signs of sprain include loss of muscle strength, spasm and inability to move the injured part.

The Severity Of Strains And Sprains

Healthcare providers usually categorize strains and sprains according to the severity of injury.

  • Grade I sprain/strain means that the injury is mild and involves only minor damage to the muscles, tendons and joints
  • Grade II sprain/strain means that the muscles or tendons are still intact yet partially torn
  • Grade III sprain/strain is the most severe type of injury, because the muscles and tendons are completely torn or stretched, which cause joint instability.

First Aid Techniques for Strains and Sprains

Taking a brief rest after experiencing sprain or strain can help decrease pain.
Taking a brief rest after experiencing sprain or strain can help decrease pain.

Rest of the injured muscle

Application of cold compress or ice packs for a couple of days until the swelling or inflammation subsides

Use of compression garments or bandages to help immobilize the injury

Elevation of the injury above the height of the heart to promote circulation and decrease swelling and inflammation

Related Video on Sprain and Strain Differences:

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“Sprains and Strains: What’s the Difference?” OrthoInfo. Retrieved online on August 15, 2014 from

“Sprains and Strains.” Better Health Channel. Retrieved online on August 15, 2014 from

Sports & Health: Common Injuries Associated with Sports

As the end of summer nears and another school semester is about to begin, it is always a good opportunity for students to engage in extra-curricular activities, such as sports and cheer dancing. But you have to keep in mind that every time you step on the field to play sports, exercise, or even perform cheerleading stunts, you always run yourself at risk for developing a kind of injury at some point in time.

We have listed the common injuries associated with sports and here are some of them:

  • Ankle Sprains and Strains – Sprains and strains are the most common types of ankle injuries. These usually happen when there is too much tearing or stretching of the ligaments surrounding the joins of the ankles. Other causes of ankle injuries include too much jumping and improper landing.
  • Injuries to the Knees – Injuries to knees happen when an athlete changes direction or twists his body swiftly that too much force is received by the knees. A good example of this is the anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) injury, which usually happen when the athlete is not moving his feet, but needs to twist his body quickly to change direction.
  • Muscle Cramps – The usually symptoms of cramps are sudden tightness of the muscles associated with extreme pain. Cramps happen when the muscles experiences spasms, a sensation where the muscle contracts extensively but does not relax thereafter.
  • Epicondylitis – This is more known as the “tennis elbow.” Repeated use of the arm and forearm muscles can cause elbow pain, which is why they are more common among tennis players.
  • Wrist Injuries – Injuries are common among people performing stunts, such as a gymnast or a cheer dancer. It happens when too much force is applied on the wrist, usually twice as much as the body weight of the person.
  • Overall back and lower back pains – These are commonly associated with intense training without using proper body mechanics, such as when lifting heavy objects or too much force applied on the back.

What is an effective way to prevent sport injuries?

Although injuries resulting from accidents, such as fall or body contact, cannot be totally prevented, other sports injuries are easier to prevent with proper training and exercise. Stretching activities to help increase flexibility, for example, is one way to prevent overuse injuries including back pains, sprains, as well as wrist and knee injuries. Finally, avoid too much exercise and muscle stress if your body cannot handle the pressure properly.

Related Video on Sports Injury Prevention:

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“Sports Injuries.” Medline Plus. Retrieved online on August 3, 2014 from

“The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries.” Web MD. Retrieved online on August 3, 2014 from

Hematoma – Spots of Blood and Bruises under the Skin

Hematoma is a medical term used to describe the accumulation of blood in the tissues because of bleeding; for instance, when the small vessels rupture or tear due to injuries like fall or bump. Hematomas usually accumulate under the skin, the muscles, tissues, periosteum and internal organs. Sometimes it is caused by diseases in the vessels such as atherosclerosis, but usually, hematomas are caused by minor soft tissue injuries such as bruising and painful swelling.

The appearance of hematomas can be prevented with proper first aid technique. And if proper treatment is rendered, hematomas usually disappear without leaving a trace of bruise on the skin. Most hematomas caused by minor injuries can be treated at home, but larger ones, which affect the intramuscular cavity, usually need medical assistance and treatment.

What are the symptoms of hematoma?

Swelling is the first sign of hematoma, which is relatively fast-increasing in size and lump. The swelling then disappears and there is no initial sign of inflammation noted on the site of the injury.       But after the 3rd to 5th day, there is a reactive tissue inflammation that develops on the site. Also along the edge of the hematoma, swelling and inflammation can be noted. If the hematoma is touched, there is a painful sensation, warm to touch, and mild soreness.  But whenever the hematoma becomes severely inflamed after the first 5 days, the swelling becomes hotter and more painful to touch. The victim may also suffer from elevated body temperature because of infection on the injury site.

Inflammation and painful sensation are some of the common characteristics of a developing hematoma.
Inflammation and painful sensation are some of the common characteristics of a developing hematoma.

Other common symptoms of hematoma include limited mobility or movement on the affected extremities, muscle groups or skin region and skin discoloration usually from purplish-red to yellowish-green.

When can a hematoma become dangerous or life-threatening?

As we have said, mild hematomas can be treated at home and are less dangerous. But when hematomas develop from severe crash, fall, other inadvertent circumstances, and medical conditions, it usually needs immediate medical supervision. For instance, a hematoma that occurs in the brain can result to a traumatic brain injury, resulting to intracerebral hematoma. This kind of hematoma is life-threatening and needs to be treated medically as soon as possible, because it can cause paralysis or even death if not treated promptly.

Ways to treat mild hematomas

There are several conservative ways to treat hematomas at home. Immediately after bruising, apply ice to the injury site and compression band to prevent hematomas from developing. Usually after 2 to 3 days, it needs to be massaged and applied with heat to help return the normal blood circulation on the site of the injury. Always remember that hematoma gradually improve over time, but if it there is too much pain on the site, over-the-counter pain medications can usually be taken to minimize inflammation and pain.

Related Video on Hematoma Treatments:

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“Hematoma Treatment.” Emedicine Health. Retrieved online on July 31, 2014 from

“What is a Hematoma?” Sports Medicine. Retrieved online on July 31, 2013 from

Spinal Cord Injury: It’s Impact

Spinal cord injury is among the leading causes of chronic disability. Read further and learn about how spinal cord injury can impact a person’s life.

A spinal cord injury refers to the damage to the spinal cord, usually due to extreme physical trauma such as in accidents or contact sports. This condition can lead to lasting and serious impact on a person’s life.

Spinal Pain
Spinal Pain

Although it can happen to almost anyone, males age 15 to 35 are at higher risk of developing spinal cord injuries. This is because most people who sustain serious physical trauma to this part of the body are both young and in good health.

The spinal cord connects the brain to the other parts of the body. This bundle of nerves and other tissue is contained and protected by the vertebral bones of the spine. The spinal cord is composed of many nerves, and extends from the base of the brain to the lowermost end of the buttocks. This body organ is essential for relaying messages or impulses from the brain to the different parts of the body, and vice versa. It is responsible for effective sensation, balance, movement, and many more. Spinal cord injury can result when the nerves protrude or the vertebra pushes towards the nerves or the nerves get severed or damaged.

In case of spinal cord injury, the impulses that are transmitted through the nerves may be prevented. The result can either be a total or partial loss of sensation and voluntary body functions below the injury. The part of the body affected after a spinal cord damage depends on the level at which the damage occurred, the type of injury, and the extent of damage involving the spinal cord. For example, spinal cord injury that is closer to the neck will typically result in loss of body movement throughout the entire the body. On the other hand, injury occurring at the lower back may only result in paralysis of lower limbs.

The effects of spinal cord injury can be quite difficult to predict. Some may experience partial paralysis while others suffer total paralysis. Either way, it can adversely affect the life of the person. The loss of function of the body part can go on for a lifetime. Medical intervention can only help manage symptoms but not actually repairing the damaged nerves.

Since accidents are the most common causes of spinal cord injury, it is important to learn how to properly handle victims of an accident. A first aid training course can equips laypeople with the knowledge and skills at how to manage injured individuals. Improper handling of

victims in an accident can definitely lead to damage to the spinal cord.

Immobilizing the head and neck, and keeping the body well-aligned while rendering first aid to a spinal cord injury victim is crucial at preventing this life-changing condition.

Broken Toe: Causes, Symptoms, Complications and First Aid

Broken toes occur when there is a break or crack in the bone. It is also Broken Toeknown as a fracture. Each toe consists of two or three small bones. They can be easily broken from hitting the toe on a hard surface or dropping a weighty object on it. Due to its fragility, broken toes are a common injury. It can be diagnosed with a medical examination, which sometimes involves x-rays.

Most fractures are minor and can be easily treated at home. On the other hand, severe injuries may cause deformities and open wounds, which would require medical care. Big toe fractures also require medical assistance. Surgery is rarely needed.

Causes of Broken Toes

Broken toes are commonly caused by injury to the toes. However, overuse or prolonged, repetitive movements may lead to stress or hairline fractures. Other than that, trauma is the primary culprit. The most common causes of broken toes include:

  • Jamming the toe on hard surface (usually with great force)
  • Dropping a weighty object on the toes
  • Certain sports activities

Symptoms of Broken Toes

It is quite evident when there is a broken toe. However, any one or multiple of the following signs and symptoms of broken toe may be present. Broken toes can be diagnosed by medical examination, x-ray and MRI.

  • Pain
    • Which is worsened by walking
    • Swelling
    • Stiffness
    • Difficulty walking
      • Especially if it involves the big toe

Complications from Broken Toes

Complications may arise immediately after the injury (within minutes to days) or much later than that (weeks to years), although they are uncommon in broken toes. Some of the most common infections include:

  • Nail injury, which can lead to subungual hematoma
  • Open fracture
  • Infection, especially if it is an open fracture
  • Nonunion (incomplete healing) or malunion (improper healing)
  • In the future, increases risks for osteoarthritis

First Aid Management for Broken Toes

There are several ways to manage broken toes to relieve of symptoms. Broken toes need not usually require medical attention. To effectively manage broken toes, administer first aid to hasten healing.

  • Stay away from any activity that may exacerbate the injury.
  • Take plenty of rest and immobilize the affected foot. Several methods can be done to immobilize the toe:
    • Buddy taping: tape the injured toe to its adjacent toe
    • Wear a surgical shoe
    • Casting the foot.
    • To reduce swelling, apply ice pack to the toe for 20 minutes an hour for the first 24 hours of the injury. In the succeeding days, ice it two to three times a day. Do not apply ice directly unto the skin and wrap it in a washcloth.
    • Elevate the foot a few inches to limit the swelling.
    • Take over-the-counter pain medications for pain, if necessary. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen may be taken but do not give aspirin to children.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and not meant to substitute for medical advice or first aid training. To learn how to manage broken toes and other broken bones in the body, enroll in workplace approved First Aid Training for complete knowledge.

SOAP Note Format

[heading style=”1″]Learning about the SOAP Note Format from Emergency First Aid Training.[/heading]
Injury Assessment using Soap Note Format
Emergency First Aid Training Soap Note Format

The SOAP note format provides a more detailed and advanced structure for decision making and problem solving in injury management. It is much more inclusive of the entire injury management process. Like the HOPS format, this evaluation method can be efficiently practiced by individuals who have acquired at least a first aid recertification.

There are two important components in the SOAP Note Format and the first one is the assessment. Following the objective evaluation, the examiner analyzes and assesses the individual’s status and prognosis. Although a definitive diagnosis may not be known, the suspected site of injury, involved structures, and severity of injury are documented. Subsequently, both long-term and short-term goals are established. Long-term goals should reflect the anticipated status of the individual after a period of rehabilitation and might include pain-free ROM; bilateral strength, power, and muscular endurance; cardiovascular endurance; and return to full functional status. Short-term goals are developed to outline the expected progress within days of the initial injury and might include immediate protection of the injured area and control of inflammation, hemorrhage, muscle spasm, or pain. Short-term goals are updated with each progress note. Progress notes may be written daily, weekly, or biweekly to document progress.

The second component is the Planning. The final section of the note lists the therapeutic modalities and exercises, educational consultations, and functional activities used to achieve the documented goals. The action plan should include the following information: the immediate treatment given to the injured individual; the frequency and duration of treatments, therapeutic modalities, and exercises; evaluation standards to determine progress toward the goals; ongoing patient education; and criteria for discharge.

As the short-term goals are achieved and updated, periodic “in-house review” of the individual’s records permits health care providers to evaluate joint ROM; flexibility; muscular strength, power, and endurance; balance or proprioception; and functional status. In addition, these reviews allow health care providers to discuss the continuity of documentation, efficacy of treatment, average time to discharge, and other parameters that may reflect quality of care. When it is determined that the individual can be discharged and cleared for participation, a discharge note should be written to close the file. All information included within the file is confidential and cannot be released to anyone without written approval from the patient. This is also the reason why you need to attend on an emergency first aid training course to be aware of this format.

Watch this related video about SOAP Note Tips For BHCs From Dr. Serrano

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In a clinical setting, SOAP notes are the sole means of documenting the services provided to the patient. All clinicians have an ethical responsibility to keep accurate and factual records. This information verifies specific services rendered and evaluates the progress of the patient as well as the efficacy of the treatment plan. Insurance companies use this information to determine if services are being appropriately rendered and qualify for reimbursement. More important, this comprehensive record-keeping system can minimize the ever-present threat of malpractice and litigation. In general, the primary error in writing SOAP notes is the error of omission, whereby clinicians fail to adequately document the nature and extent of care provided to the patient. Formal documentation and regular review of records can reduce this threat and minimize the likelihood that inappropriate or inadequate care is being rendered to a patient.

[note color=”#d14549″]Emergency First Aid Training References:[/note]

Documenting general observations. Nursing 2006; 36(2):25.