Chapter 9 - Limb injuries

Aims of this chapter

  1. To learn about the anatomy of the muscles, bones and joints.
  2. To appreciate the types of limb injuries that occur.
  3. To understand the PRICE principles of soft tissue management.
  4. To appreciate that despite looking dramatic, DR ABC is most important.
  5. To improve knowledge about slings and splinting.


Injuries to the muscles and joints such as sprains and strains are common in all contact sports, including Rugby. Occasionally, broken bones (fractures) or joint dislocations can occur as in any other contact sport. Any of the above can prevent the athlete from playing on and can often be very difficult to tell apart.

The bones are bound together in the joints with strong ligaments which can be torn or suffer a stretch known as a “sprain”. The medical term for a broken bone is a fracture. If the ligaments tear and the two ends of bone making a joint slip away from one another, this is known as a “dislocation”.

The muscles work across the joints and attach to them via strong tendons. Muscles or tendons can suffer a tear or “strain”. Athletes with such injuries will complain of pain and be reluctant or unable to move the limb which may be accompanied by deformity and rapid swelling.