How To Proceed If A Broken Bone Is Suspected

By Greg Garner

There is only one sure way to tell if a bone has been broken or if the injury is just a sprain. You can guess by the level of pain involved. Outside of that kind of guesswork, unless a bone is sticking out of the skin, you very often need an X-ray to know if it is a break or a fracture. Broken bones or breaks come in several degrees of severity.

A small crack like a hairline fracture A stress fracture is caused by overuse or repeated abuse A simple fracture has the bone ends separated but still in alignment A compound fracture means there is soft tissue damage where the bone protrudes through the skin A greenstick fracture is a broken bone in a child. The bones of a child are flexible like a green tree limb that will bend before breaking

The Type Of Break Dictates Severity

The type of break and the bone that is broken is what is used to judge the severity of the injury. This is true even though the treatment is basically the same for all fractures. You should suspect a fracture if the following applies.


The injury involves a bend or deformed part of the body The bone is already protruding through the skin There is a lump in the skin without a break of the skin or a hard lump on the bone The injury produces a snapping or crackling sound when it occurred The injury immediately bruises and swells.

Assume The Worst And Treat

Treat any areas like this as if there were a break. In HIPAA Compliance Training, it is always better to err on the side of safety so you proceed with the broken bone assumption if the victim complains of the pain or you have any of the previous indications to suspect. Proceed by

Complete immobilization of suspected break. You will need to support the limb with a splint. Find a sturdy piece of wood or something like it and lash the injured limb securely with rope or a belt. If it is the arm that has the suspected break, once you have the splint in place, sling the arm against the body so that it cannot be moved about. Never attempt to reset a broken or dislocated bone yourself. Immobilize the wound, control any bleeding, and wait for emergency services to arrive. Any attempt to reset or relocate could result in more injury to the interior part of the arm. The emergency room physician will x-ray the injury before deciding how to proceed. Have the injured party lie down and be still. Keep the suspected break above heart level if possible. Speak to the injured person in a calm and reassuring voice and watch for signs of shock or internal injuries.

Be Prepared At Home

If you have a suspected broken bone, apply ice for 15 minutes every hour for two hours and then do not ice for two hours. Alternate this way until swelling is gone. See your doctor or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. It is a good idea to have an emergency splint in your first aid kit for just such an emergency.

About the Author: For more information please visit our

HIPAA Privacy Rule



Permanent Link: