Broken Bones

Written by Linda Hepler, RN | Published on July 21, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 21, 2014

First Aid: Broken Bones

A broken bone, or a fracture, can occur during an athletic competition, accident, or some kind of trauma. Broken bones are usually not life threatening, but they do require immediate medical care.

Symptoms of a Broken Bone

Signs of a broken bone include one or more of the following:

  • intense pain at the site of the injury that worsens with movement
  • swelling, numbness, or bluish color of the injured area
  • deformity of the limb or joint if the injury occurred in the arm or leg
  • bone protruding through the skin
  • heavy bleeding at the injury site

First Aid Care

  • If the person is unconscious and/or not breathing or moving, call 911 for medical help and begin CPR.
  • Stop any bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound with a sterile bandage, a clean cloth, or a clean piece of clothing.
  • While waiting for medical care, give first aid treatment for shock if the victim has symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, pale and clammy skin, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate. The person should lie quietly with the feet elevated about 12 inches. Cover him or her with a blanket to maintain body warmth.
  • Immobilize the injured area if you will be moving the victim. Do not move them if there is a back or neck injury. Make a splint by folding a piece of cardboard or newspaper or a magazine, then placing it gently under the limb. Carefully tie the splint to the injured area with pieces of cloth.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice in a plastic bag to the injured area. Make sure to place a cloth between the skin and the ice so you don’t damage the skin.
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Show Sources

  • Emergencies and First Aid — Broken Bones. (n.d.). Health Information and Medical Information - Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved October 13, 2012, from
  • Fractures (broken bones): First aid - (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 13, 2012, from 

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