How to treat broken bones and fractures

A fracture is a broken bone. It can be difficult to tell whether the injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain or strain. If in doubt, always treat as a fracture.

Types of Fractures

  • Closed - Bone is broken with skin intact.
  • Open - Broken bone protrudes through skin or there is a wound.
  • Complicated - Associated injury to a major nerve, blood vessel, or vital organ(s).

What to do

  • Follow DRSABCD St John WA Action Plan
  • Control any bleeding and cover any wounds.
  • Rest and reassure, ask the casualty to remain still.
  • Immobilise the fracture in most comfortable position:

DO NOT attempt to force a fracture back into place.

  • Use broad bandages (where possible) to immobilise the fracture.
  • Place a padded splint along the injured limb then bandage above and below the fracture site leaving a five (5) cm gap either side of the fracture to prevent movement.

DO NOT bandage over the fracture.

  • The casualty may be able to support the fracture themselves.
  • Check that bandages are not too tight or too loose and every fifteen (15) minutes and watch for signs of loss of circulation to hands or feet.
  • Seek medical aid or call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance if required.

Caused by

  • Direct force - at site of impact.
  • Indirect forces e.g. fall on feet and break spinal bone.

    Signs and symptoms

    • Pain at or near the site of the injury.
    • Difficult or impossible normal movement.
    • Loss of function.
    • Deformity or abnormal mobility.
    • Tenderness and swelling.
    • Discolouration and bruising.
    • Broken bone penetrating skin and bleeding.