This is the second in a series of blog posts designed to serve as a quick reference guide. Each will focus on a sudden injury or illness and is designed to help you make an informed decision on a plan of action when the unexpected happens. Find the first blog post in this series, designed to help you diagnose the severity of a burn, here.
Do you know what to do if you suspect a broken bone? In most cases, making a splint should be your first step. A splint holds part of the body stable to decrease pain and prevent further damage until you can get medical help. A splint should be used anytime that you suspect a broken bone. Signs of a potential broken bone include a visibly misshapen or out-of-place limb, bruising, swelling, bleeding, tingling, numbness, and limited mobility.
- Stop any bleeding by applying pressure directly to the wound. Then, apply a bandage or piece of gauze.
- Do not change the position of or realign an injured body part. Splint the body part in the position it was found so that you do not cause further damage
- Find something rigid to use as a support, such as a stick, a board, or even a rolled-up newspaper. Use a rolled towel, blanket or clothing item if nothing else is available. You can also tape an injured body part to an uninjured body part to immobilize it – for example, taping an injured finger to the one next to it.
- Extend the splint beyond the injured area to keep the body part still. If possible, include the joints above and below the injury in the splint. For example, if you’re splinting a forearm, place the support behind the arm and tie or tape it just below the wrist and above the elbow.
- Secure the splint with ties such as belts, cloth strips, tape, or shoelaces. Try not to put commercial tape, such as duct tape, directly against the skin. Be sure that the knots are not pressing onto the injury. Don’t make the knots too tight or you could cut off circulation to the area.
- Check the area of the injured body part every few minutes for swelling, paleness, a blue tinge, or numbness. Loosen the splint if necessary.
- If the injured person complains that the splint is causing pain, try loosening the ties. If they still are experiencing pain from the splint, remove it.
- Short rapid breaths and dizziness are signs of shock. If these are present, try to lie the person down without affecting the injured body part. If possible, elevate his or her legs and position their head slightly above heart level.
- Seek medical help immediately at an urgent care or emergency room.
In most cases, the injury can be evaluated at an urgent care center. If a bone is sticking through the skin, you should head to the emergency room. Both Integrity Urgent Care locations are open daily from 8 am – 8 pm. Walk-ins are encouraged and appointments are never necessary. We’re only a phone call away if you need more information.
Sources: https://mdpremier.com/broken-bones-urgent-care-or-emergency-room, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-make-a-splint#overview1, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000040.htm