First Aid: Broken Bones

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Parents

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



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.
OrganizationAmerican Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) The AAOS provides information for the public on sports safety, and bone, joint, muscle, ligament and tendon injuries or conditions.
Web SitePowerful Girls Have Powerful Bones - The National Bone Health Campaign This site, designed for girls ages 9 to 12, teaches how to get and keep strong, healthy bones for life.


Related Articles

First Aid: Falls Although most result in mild bumps and bruises, some falls can cause serious injuries that need medical attention.
Broken Bones Although many kids will have one at some point, a broken bone can be scary for them and parents alike. To help make things a little easier if a spill results in a fracture, here's the lowdown on what to expect.
Household Safety: Preventing Injuries From Falling, Climbing, and Grabbing The potential for a dangerous fall or a tumble into a sharp edge can happen in nearly every area of your home. Read about how to help protect kids from getting hurt.
Broken Bones, Sprains, and Strains Broken bones and torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons happen. Find out what to do if your child experiences any breaks, strains, or sprains.




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

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