The Principles of Managing Musculoskeletal Trauma in the Backcountry

Assessment:  Look, Listen, and Feel

Look: 
Look at possible fracture sites.
Remove clothing, remove boots, and socks.  
Do you see any wounds, deformity, angulation, discoloration, or swelling?
Look around: 
What was the Mechanism of Injury (MOI)?
If the MOI indicates a possible fracture, treat as such. 
Listen: 
Talk to the victim. 
Did they feel anything break, snap, crack, or pop? 
Is there decrease in normal function? 
Is there guarding?
Feel: 
Check Circulation, Sensation, and Motion (CSM)?
Is there any point tenderness or crepitus?
WHEN IN DOUBT, SPLINT!

The Principles of Splinting:

Circulation, Circulation, Circulation
Is there good circulation distal to the site of the injury?
Can the injury be immobilized in the position found?
If not, pull traction-in-line to slowly and gently move the extremity into proper anatomical alignment. This is to establish and maintain good circulation distal to the site of the injury.
Create a rigid but very well padded splint.
Splints should be BUFF; Big, Ugly, Fat, and Fluffy.
It is more important for a splint to be well padded than rigid.
Immobilize the entire extremity, the joint above and below the site of the injury.
Monitor all splints, check C/S/M distal to the site of the injury every fifteen minutes for the duration of the evacuation.
In the cold winter environment beware of the risk of frostbite in immobilized extremities, may have to apply chemical heat packs to the hands and feet. 

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