If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned, it’s that being prepared for a disaster is the single most important thing you can do to ensure the safety of your family when the inevitable crisis strikes. Stockpiling food and water, securing your home against intruders, defending yourself against attackers, preparing a bug-out bag, becoming adept at making fire and constructing temporary shelters…these and many more are all things that you can do, in advance, to give you and your family the best possible chance of survival in what is sure to be a very different world than the one in which we live now.
There is another very important component to survival that most of us haven’t thought much about, and that’s medical care. Sure, you have a first-aid kit in your survival stockpile, but do you know the best way to treat injuries to a variety of body parts?
Even if the emergency itself that you are forced to deal with does not result in any physical injuries to you or your family members, the likelihood of sustaining injuries increases dramatically as you attempt to escape the problem and very possibly find yourself on rough terrain and perhaps in the wilderness.
Chances are, professional medical care will not be available during a crisis as it normally is, especially during the first few days when whichever doctors’ offices and hospitals that stay open could be overloaded with patients. You need to know at least the basics of treating injuries in order to keep your family moving and as safe as possible.
Understanding how to treat injuries affecting the ankle, foot, knee, hamstring, groin, lower back, wrist, elbow and shoulder will not only alleviate pain quicker, but will also speed up the recovery process. How swiftly you or your family members can rebound from injuries that are certain to come will go a long way toward putting yourselves in the best possible position to successfully deal with the crisis you are facing.
Let’s go over some possible injuries you may sustain, including the symptoms you’ll exhibit and the treatment that will help you get back on your feet as soon as possible:
The ankle is the body part that is most likely to sustain an injury if you’re on the run in rough terrain. If you’ve ever sprained or fractured your ankle, you know how painful and debilitating it can be. Swelling and tenderness will occur almost immediately, and weight bearing will be a problem. When ligaments holding the bones of the ankle joint stretch, tear or rupture, you will not be a happy camper.
The first thing you’ll want to do is remove your shoe and sock. Then use an elastic wrap to cover the ankle and apply a pack of crushed ice to the area for 20 to 30 minutes every two to three hours over a couple of days to help reduce the swelling. This will at least keep you going until you are able to get professional medical attention.
The result of doing a lot of running and jumping to escape a crisis situation could very possibly result in a series of micro-fractures in various bones of the foot. This stress fracture can result in a bump over a bone in the foot. Apply an ice pack for 20 to 30 minutes every few hours.
If the pain is coming from the bottom of your heel, you may have a heel spur. This injury is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick fibrous tissue that runs the length of the long arch on the sole of the foot and attaches to the heel bone. Ice the area three or four times a day and massage it as well.
Often caused by the twisting of the knee while running on uneven terrain, a knee cartilage injury can cause a significant amount of pain. Chances are, the medial meniscus has been injured, which will cause pain on the inside of the knee. If you’re also feeling a “locking” in the joint, it could be that a portion of the meniscus has been torn.
Use an elastic bandage or wet towel for a knee injury, and apply an ice pack as soon as you can. The ice will not only help reduce swelling by constricting the blood vessels, but will also dull the pain and relieve muscle spasms. Remove the ice temporarily once the area becomes numb because you don’t want to add frostbite to the problem.
If you feel a pull in the area behind your thigh, usually while accelerating while running, you may have sustained a hamstring injury. You will probably experience tenderness, swelling, stiffness or pain, and perhaps all four. That’s because you have probably stretched or torn one or more of your three hamstring muscles.
Wrap a compression pad under an elastic bandage around the hamstring area. Ice the area as well. During the first night following your injury, periodically stretch the injured muscle gently.
If you experience a sharp pain in the groin, followed by tenderness, swelling and bruising, you may have suffered a groin muscle strain. The pain is particularly intense when you draw your leg inward. This injury is a stretch or a tear of the muscle that runs from the pubic bone to the inside of the thigh. As with the hamstring injury, use a compression pad with an elastic bandage over it. Ice it and occasionally stretch the injured muscle slowly and carefully.
Unless you’ve been consistently doing lower back muscle stretches, there’s a very good chance that increased physical activity will result in lower back strain and soreness. The discomfort you’ll experience – from low grade to sharp – will limit your activities, especially when it comes to bending down. You’re probably experiencing inflammation of one or more of the back muscles or ligaments, so ice the area off and on for a couple of days and then gently stretch those muscles.
A common injury on uneven terrain occurs when someone falls backward and tries to lessen the impact by putting his hand down behind him. A sprain or fracture to the wrist, with a stretch or tear to a ligament around the wrist, will result in swelling and bruising. Your grip strength and the flexibility of your wrist will be affected. As with most injuries, apply compression and ice. If pain persists, get medical attention if you can.
If you fall on your elbow, there’s a good chance you could inflame the bursa sac. This sac is normally filled with a lubricating fluid for the elbow joint, but if it becomes swollen, it will hang from the bottom of the elbow and may feel warm and tender. It can also affect the elbow’s range of motion. Apply ice three to four times a day.
A direct hit to the shoulder can cause ligament damage severe enough to result in the bones of the joint separating from each other. This combination of a contusion and a sprain is called a shoulder separation, which is extremely painful. Keep your arm in a sling and ice it carefully until you can get professional medical attention.