You're a devoted user of helmets, seat belts, kneepads and all manner of protective equipment but, unfortunately, accidents happen. These accidents might result in a fracture, which describes cracked and broken bones.
While all fractures should be treated by a medical professional, knowing the signs of a broken bone and what to do before reaching the hospital or urgent care center can help improve outcomes for you and others.
Identifying a break
Depending on the severity of the break, a fractured bone can be easy or difficult to spot. For example, a "stable" fracture barely moves the broken bone out of place, while an "open," or compound fracture will break the skin in addition to the bone.
Look out for the following signs of a bone fracture:
• A snap or grinding noise during the injury;
• A deformed or misshapen limb after the injury;
• Limited ability to move a limb after the injury;
• Intense pain, numbness or tingling around the injury;
• Bruising, swelling and/or bleeding around the injury;
• Bone protruding from the skin.
After any serious injury, make sure to call 911 if the injured person is having trouble breathing or you suspect he has injured his head, neck, back, hip, pelvis or upper leg. If you suspect a head, neck or back injury, do not move the person -- wait for help to arrive.
Also, make sure to contact emergency services if a bone is protruding through his skin, there is severe bleeding, you cannot stabilize the broken bone, or the skin below the injury is pale, cold, clammy or blue. If these are not the case, you can move forward with the following actions:
• Keep the person calm and still while you continue to examine him for injuries;
• Remove clothing from the injured site;
• If necessary, wrap a homemade splint around the injured limb using cloth or folded newspaper to keep the affected bone still and in place;
• If a bone is protruding, lightly rinse it if possible and cover it with a sterile bandage or wound dressing;
• Carefully apply an ice pack to the site to reduce pain and swelling;
• While waiting for emergency services, have the person lie on his back, elevate his feet a foot above his head and cover him with a coat or blanket to prevent shock unless you suspect a head, neck or back injury;
• As soon as you're at the hospital or medical professionals have arrived, let them take control of the situation.
The only time you should attempt to realign a bone is if the person isn't receiving proper blood circulation and emergency personnel won't arrive quickly. Pale or blue skin, loss of pulse, numbness or tingling are all signs that a person's limb is not receiving adequate circulation. In this case, it's OK to move the limb into a normal resting position as best you can.
Slings and things
Broken bones typically require the use of a cast, sling, splint or a combination of the three during treatment. These help keep broken bones stable so that they can heal, but they do so in different ways:
• Casts are made of plaster or fiberglass and form a hard "bandage" that wraps entirely around a limb or affected area;
• Splints do not wrap all the way around a limb and can be adjusted to accommodate swelling. They are typically made of plastic, metal, plaster or fiberglass;
• Slings are made for arms and may be used with or without casts and splints -- slings cradle the arm close to the chest in a bent position to keep it from swinging.
Help is close by
Does your family need care that is quick and convenient? Northwest Health Urgent Care -- Siloam Springs is close by to help treat everything from sore throats to broken bones. No appointment is needed. Visit MyNorthwestUrgentCare.com for more information or call 479-215-3080.
The emergency room at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is here for you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about its services, visit NorthwestHealth.com today.
About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital
Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a 73 licensed-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.