Dealing with a bone fracture

Learn more about fractures, stress fractures and compound fractures

A fracture is a break, usually in a bone. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. Fractures commonly happen because of car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Other causes are low bone density and osteoporosis, which cause weakening of the bones. Overuse can cause stress fractures, which are very small cracks in the bone.

Symptoms of a fracture are

  • Intense pain
  • Deformity – the limb looks out of place
  • Swelling, bruising, or tenderness around the injury
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Problems moving a limb

You need to get medical care right away for any fracture. An x-ray can tell if your bone is broken. You may need to wear a cast or splint. Sometimes you will need surgery to put in plates, pins or screws to keep the bone in place.

What is a Bone x-ray?

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An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

A bone x-ray makes images of any bone in the body, including the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, spine, pelvis, hip, thigh, knee, leg (shin), ankle or foot. A doctor will then consult the images to decide on how best to repair the damage.

First Aid for broken bones

Don’t move the person except if necessary to avoid further injury. Take these actions immediately while waiting for medical help:

  • Stop any bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound with a sterile bandage, a clean cloth or a clean piece of clothing.
  • Immobilize the injured area. Don’t try to realign the bone or push a bone that’s sticking out back in. If you’ve been trained in how to splint and professional help isn’t readily available, apply a splint to the area above and below the fracture sites. Padding the splints can help reduce discomfort.
  • Apply ice packs to limit swelling and help relieve pain. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Wrap the ice in a towel, piece of cloth or some other material.
  • Treat for shock. If the person feels faint or is breathing in short, rapid breaths, lay the person down with the head slightly lower than the trunk and, if possible, elevate the legs.

Use your own discretion in terms of moving the patent. If the patient is seriously injured, call 9-1-1 and use the steps above whilst you await help. If it is an injury to a hand or forearm and the patient is able to move with reasonable comfort, drive them to the nearest medical center.

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This article lives here: InjuryDealing with a bone fracture
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