Monday, August 26, 2019

Injuries on the Trail

April 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

Treatment for injuries – you’ve heard it a thousand times – RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation  Exactly how many of these can you do while out on the trail

A buddy falls and bumps or scrapes – leg, knee, hand, elbow – you’re hours from the trail head.

  • You cannot walk with your leg in the air – elevation is OUT.
  • Where’s the ice pack?  At home in your freezer 🙁
  • Rest?  Short of ordering up a helicopter, that’s not an option.
  • You can only realistically accomplish one of the 4 treatments recommended for acute injuries – Compression
  • Do you have what you need for compression?  Swelling is painful and impedes healing.

Over a year ago, a buddy slipped and banged her knee.   It was abraded and started to swell.   Not one of us (including a retired nurse) had an ace bandage.  Our injured hiker was deeply uncomfortable for about 3 hours as she hiked back.  That night, I went home and put an Ace Bandage with Velcro closure in a plastic bag in my pack.   2 weeks ago in Yosemite, our buddy tumbled down some stone steps (at the TOP of Yosemite Falls) and landed on her back – OUCH.  Her knee was scraped and her shin was banged up.

After holding onto her for a moment so she knew she was safe, we sat and assessed.   We then got to a safe place on the trail and sat her down.   The compression bandage came out and we wrapped her shin – tight enough to provide some compression, but not so tight as to cut off blood flow.  It felt very snug to her at first, but as she started walking, it was fine.   In other words, it felt a bit too tight – only initially.  I used a zig zag pattern  starting from the bottom, with slightly less pressure towards the top so the fluid would move up the leg, not down it.

She hiked all the way down with that bandage and left it on for the long drive home.  Her shin never swelled and did not cause problems.   Had we not used compression, she might still be nursing that injury.


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