Injuries That Involve Broken Bones
A broken bone is also called a fracture. This type of injury is accompanied by intense pain, difficulty or inability to move the injured area, swelling, possible deformity and sometimes bleeding. If you suspect a bone has been broken, the most important thing is to protect the limb from further injury.
Call for emergency help if the victim is not responding, having difficulty breathing, bleeding heavily or in intense pain, or if the area near the break site looks deformed.
- If the wound is not bleeding, apply ice (covered with a cloth) to the injured area to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure by placing a clean cloth or piece of clothing over the injury for several minutes until the bleeding stops. Add new layers over existing ones if bleeding persists.
- Do not try to move the bone back into normal position. The less movement, the better. Keep the person as quiet as possible and immobilize the joints above and below the affected area.
- Aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium will help reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen will help the pain, but not the swelling.
- You may want to fashion a splint made of a rigid material. The splint should hold the joint above and below the injury immobile.
Spinal injuries are particularly dangerous. Never move a victim you believe has a spinal injury unless instructed by emergency medical personnel. Following are signs of spinal injuries:
- Visible head injuries
- Severe pain in the neck and back
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis
- Lack of control of bodily functions
- Body is positioned or twisted in an unusual manner
- Victim is incoherent or unresponsive
Classifications of Fractures from the American Medical Association
- SIMPLE - The bone is broken in one place.
- COMMINUTED - The bone is broken in many places and there are bone fragments present.
- OPEN or COMPOUND - A compound fracture occurs when the bone protrudes through the skin. Bacteria and other organisms may enter the wound and therefore, the chance of infection is very high.
- CLOSED - The broken bone does not protrude through the skin.
- UNDISPLACED - The broken bone is still aligned.
- DISPLACED - The broken bone is no longer aligned and needs to be reset.