A stingray injury is known to trigger intense pain. The injury necessitates immediate first aid measures and medical care to prevent the symptoms from worsening.
The objective of treatment for a stingray injury is aimed on monitoring the vital signs, alleviating the pain and proper care of the wound.
Vital signs monitoring
The management of the irregular vital signs is the initial step of the treatment.
- In case the blood pressure drops, intravenous fluids are given.
- Medications are prescribed to maintain the normal blood pressure range.
- In some cases, hospitalization is needed if the individual is very sick.
Pain control for a stingray injury
Even today, there is no available antivenom to the stingray toxin. The venom is basically a protein that can be disintegrated by heat which is why immersing the wounded area in water as hot as the individual can tolerate for 30-90 minutes can drastically reduce the pain. If the area is numb, be careful in preventing burns from the hot water.
Pain medication including narcotics administered intravenously might be required until the heat has deactivated the toxin. Numbing medications are injected into the site of injury to reduce the pain and allow the doctor to carefully assess the wound for any injuries to the structures below without triggering further pain.
The doctor cleanses the wound, eliminates any foreign matter and checks for injuries to the nerves, tendons and blood vessels. If it has been more than 5 years since the last shot, a tetanus booster is given.
Antibiotics are usually given since the wound is contaminated by bacteria from the stinger and seawater. The wound is left open and later closed after a few days using stitches if infection does not develop. If the wound is fixed on the first visit, it is sealed loosely to allow any infection to easily drain.
If vital structures such as the tendons, nerves or the arteries are impaired, a surgeon should be consulted to assist in the management of the wound. Thorough cleaning and repair might be required in the operation room.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on a stingray injury is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage wilderness emergencies including a stingray injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Saskatoon First Aid.