Bumps and Bruises

Treatment for the Minor Stuff

Treating bumps and bruises is probably the most common type of first aid you'll ever do.

Life is rough. Don't believe me? Just look in the mirror after a shower and count the bruises on your body.

Whether you sprain an ankle on the baseball diamond or bump into the coffee table, it's those minor injuries that need the most first aid. Here are some helpful hints for treating minor bumps and bruises.


ice pack on knee
RICE is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. JoKMedia / Getty Images

The basic treatment for all minor injuries, RICE is the gold standard for treatment on the sidelines of any sporting event.


Bruise Treatment

bruised knee
Massive bruise from a snowboard. (c) Matt Gibson

Treating bruises is more about art than science. There isn't a lot of research on bruise treatments, so docs give advice based on theory and tradition rather than evidence.


Sprain Treatment

swollen ankle
A swollen, sprained ankle. (c) Ed Kohler
Similarly, sprains are so minor that most treatment is based on what seems to have worked in the past. At least in the case of sprains, there are a few studies out there looking at how best to treat them.


Pick Out the Right Pain Medication

aspirin with glass of water
Aspirin and water are sometimes all it takes. Stephen Swintek / Getty Images
Different pain meds work on different kinds of pain. This video will help you choose the proper pain medication depending on your injury.

Make an Ice Pack

bowl of ice with towel and resealable bag
All you need for a homemade icepack. Rod Brouhard

No reason to buy an expensive chemical cold pack -- those packs are inconsistent at best. Make your own ice pack using the best material for the job: ice.


Frostbite from an Ice Pack

Frostbite on an ankle after treating with an ice pack improperly applied directly on the skin. (c) Melanie Martinez

It's one of those admonishments I've heard since starting in the paramedic business: Don't leave an ice pack on an injury too long; it might cause frostbite. I didn't believe it -- until it happened to my daughter.


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