Recognise suspected: Fractures and dislocations
A fracture is a broken bone. It can range from a thin crack to a complete break. Fractures usually occur when a bone is impacted by force or by more pressure than it can support.
- Reassure the casualty and ask them not to move
- Do not strap or bandage an injured limb unnecessarily, especially if an ambulance has been called.
- A casualty will ‘guard’ an injury. This means they will hold the injury in the most comfortable position for themselves.
Only move the casualty if they are in danger or if it is safe to do so. Call the ambulance if:
- There is no circulation beyond the injury
- The casualty has difficulty breathing or the fracture is a chest bone
- Severe pain and is asking for pain relief medication
- The injury looks unstable
- A bone is protruding through the skin
Signs and Symptoms of a fracture.
- Loss of power; e.g. not being able to lift their arm
- Pain – these types of injuries are usually painful.
- Tenderness – where the break or dislocation is located
- Unnatural movement
- Bruising – around the location of the injury
- Swelling – around the location of the injury
- Crepitus – This is the feeling and sound of the bones grating or the broken bones rubbing against one another when the person moves.
- Deformity – if a limb is bent or shaped in an unnatural way
- Irregularity – or concaved areas on the skin where a break or dislocation is.
Q and A
Should a dislocated or unnatural looking bone be put back into place?
No – leave this to the emergency services. There is a danger of causing more damage by trapping nerves / blood vessels by attempting this.
What if there isn’t an obvious sign that the bone is broken?
Unless it’s an open fracture, it’s very difficult to tell if a bone is broken without an X-ray. If in doubt. Seek medical attention.
What if there is severe bleeding from an open fracture?
Severe bleeding takes priority over a broken bone. Apply pressure either side of the protruding bone without causing too much movement if possible.
What can cause a fracture?
Twisting, direct force, indirect force, underlying condition, violent sudden movement