First Aid: Broken Bones

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First Aid: Broken Bones

First Aid

Broken bones (or fractures) are a common injury in kids, especially after a fall. No matter what part might be broken or how big or small the injury may seem, all broken bones need medical care.

Signs and Symptoms

Your child may have a broken bone if:

  • you heard a "snap" or a grinding noise during an injury
  • there's swelling, bruising, or tenderness
  • the injured part is difficult to move or hurts when moving, being touched, or bearing weight

What to Do

  • Remove clothing from the injured area.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth.
  • Keep the injured limb in the position you find it.
  • Place a simple splint, if you have one, on the broken area. A splint holds the bone still and protects it until the child is seen by the doctor. To make a temporary splint, you can use a small board, cardboard, or folded up newspapers and wrap it with an elastic bandage or tape.
  • Get medical care and don't allow your child to eat or drink in case surgery is required.

Do Not Move Your Child and Call 911 Right Away

If:

  • You suspect a serious injury to the head, neck, or back.
  • A broken bone comes through the skin. While waiting for help:
    • Keep your child lying down.
    • Do not wash the wound or push in any part that's sticking out.

Think Prevention!

It's practically impossible to prevent every fracture, but you can make a break less likely by:

  • using safety gates at bedroom doors and at both the top and bottom of stairs (for babies or toddlers)
  • enforcing helmet and safety gear rules for young athletes and any child riding a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, scooter, or any type of skates and roller blades
  • not using infant walkers

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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