The general rule treating all broken bones is to immobilize them, because this reduces pain and the likelihood of further injury. The risk infection is also an important consideration in the treatment of open fractures and requires action. Do not give a person who has a broken bone anything to eat or drink in case he needs a general anesthetic in hospital.
KEEPING A BROKEN BONE STILL
- The victim will often have put the injured part in the position that is most comfortable for him and will generally be guarding the injury and keeping it still. If the victim has not done this, encourage him to keep still and help him into a comfortable position.
- Once the victim is still you can help to steady and support the fracture using your hands. By helping the victim keep the injured part still you enable him to relax. The very act of relaxing the muscles reduces on the broken bones and often alleviates pain.
- If you have to transport the victim yourself, or if it is going to be a while until help arrives, then you can immobilize the broken bone further with bandages or improvise with coats or blankets, for example.
The key points to remember with any type of bandaging are:
- Not to tie the bandage too tightly.
- To pad around the site of the break.
Do not move the injured part area unnecessarily.
- Place the dressing over the wound and build up padding along side the bone.
- Tie both the padding and the dressing in place, using firm pressure.
- Remember that broken bones do swell and that you may need to loosen the bandage if the circulation below the site of the break becomes impaired.
TREATMENT OF OPEN BREAKS
In the first instance, the wound should be protected using either a sterile dressing or an improvised dressing made from a piece of clean, dry, and non-fluffy material. If the bleeding is profuse, or you are going to have to wait some time for further help, this dressing should be held in place using the same principles as you would apply if there were a foreign object in the wound.
CHECKING FOR DAMAGE TO CIRCULATION
With any bandaging, you run the risk of cutting off the circulation to the area below the site of the bandage. While this can in part be avoided by no tying bandages too tightly and by never using a tourniquet, the nature of wounds means that they swell and this can cause once satisfactory bandage to become too tight. There are a number of ways to check whether a bandage is cutting off the circulation:
If you noticed any of these signs, gently loosen, but do not remove, the bandage until the blood flow returns.
- If the skin below the site of the bandage becomes white, gray, or blue, or feels cold to the touch.
- If the victim complains of tingling, numbness or of a lack of circulation.
- If the pulse in the limb slows or stops.
- If the color does not quickly return to the skin after the skin is gently pinched or the nail compressed.