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First Aid 

Fractures

A fracture is simply a break or a crack in a bone. Fractures may come from twisting, wrenching, or receiving a heavy blow to one or more parts of the body. Fractures may occur more easily in old and diseased bones. Open fractures involve bone protruding through the skin’s surface while closed fractures involve bone displacement and possible bleeding, but the bone does not protrude through the skin. Seek professional medical assistance if you observe or suspect the following:

  • Unresponsiveness

  • Deformity

  • Pain with gentle pressure or movement

  • Head, neck, or back fracture

  • Bone piercing the skin

  • Blue coloring to the tips of extremities

To treat a closed fracture, take the following steps:

  1. Call for emergency medical assistance and keep the person still, especially keeping the injured area immobilized.

  2. Place padding around the injury for extra support

  3. Only if care is delayed, immobilize the injury with a sling (if the injury is to the arm), or gently tie one leg to the other (if the injury is to a leg).

  4. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the injured area.

  5. Monitor vital signs, especially circulation near the injured area, and treat for shock if necessary.

To treat an open fracture, take the following steps:

  1. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing and apply pressure around the injury. Never apply direct pressure to a protruding bone.

  2. Place and secure another dressing on top of the previous one. 

  3. Immobilize the injury the same way as a closed fracture.

  4. Monitor vital signs, especially circulation in the injured area, and treat for shock if necessary. 

Resources

Austin, M., Crawford, R., & Armstrong, V. J. (2014). First aid manual. (G. M. Piazza, Ed.) (5th ed.). DK Publishing. https://kuiyem.ku.edu.tr/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/American-College-of-Emergency-Physicians-ACEP-First-Aid-Manual.pdf

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, June 26). Fractures (broken bones). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-fractures/basics/art-20056641.