First aid for bone fractures
Good first-aid care of fractures is always important. Moving the broken bones can increase pain and bleeding and can damage tissues around the injury. This can lead to complications in the repair and healing of the injury later on.
First aid for fractures is all about immobilising (limiting movement of) the injured area. Splints can be used for this. Control any external bleeding. Complicated breaks where a limb is very deformed may need to be realigned before splinting – only paramedics or medical staff should do this.
Fractures of the head or body such as skull, ribs and pelvis are all serious and should be managed by paramedics.
If you suspect a bone fracture, you should:
Keep the person still – do not move them unless there is an immediate danger, especially if you suspect fracture of the skull, spine, ribs, pelvis or upper leg
Attend to any bleeding wounds first. Stop the bleeding by pressing firmly on the site with a clean dressing. If a bone is protruding, apply pressure around the edges of the wound
If bleeding is controlled, keep the wound covered with a clean dressing
Never try to straighten broken bones
For a limb fracture, provide support and comfort such as a pillow under the lower leg or forearm. However, do not cause further pain or unnecessary movement of the broken bone
Apply a splint to support the limb. Splints do not have to be professionally manufactured. Items like wooden boards and folded magazines can work for some fractures. You should immobilise the limb above and below the fracture
Use a sling to support an arm or collarbone fracture
Raise the fractured area if possible and apply a cold pack to reduce swelling and pain
Stop the person from eating or drinking anything until they are seen by a doctor, in case they will need surgery
In an emergency, call an ambulance.