broken bone & spine injury first-aid
what is a fracture or broken bone?
A broken bone or bone fracture happens when a force applied to a bone is stronger than it can bear. As a result, it disturbs the structure and strength of the bone. It leads to pain, swelling, and loss of function.
types of fractures
There are several types of fractures, namely, simple, compound, complete, and incomplete.
In a simple fracture, the bone breaks but the broken edges do not push through the skin. When a compound fracture occurs, however, the bone breaks through the skin, through an existing open wound or creating one.
A fracture is classified as complete or incomplete depending on the manner in which the fracture occurs. In a complete fracture, the bone breaks into two separate pieces. On the other hand, in an incomplete fracture, the bone just cracks but the pieces are not separated throughout the width of the bone.
causes of fractures
A broken bone or fracture occurs when an external force is exerted upon the bone from a fall or blow. If the bone cannot withstand the amount of force applied, it breaks. It is essential to know that a bone crack or break, all describe the same kind of situation.
The most common causes of broken bones include trauma such as occurs with a vehicular accident or fall, overuse due to repetitive motion and stress fractures, and osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones and makes them prone to fractures. Fractures due to osteoporosis are also a serious concern. They pose a significant economic burden and have a negative impact on the health and well-being of the patient.
Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures each year across the globe. In other words, there is an osteoporotic fracture every three seconds.
signs & symptoms of broken bones
The most common signs and symptoms of a broken bone include:
broken bones: what you need to do
If you suspect a person has a broken bone or fracture, provide first-aid treatment.
The most important thing to remember is never to move a patient with a suspected fracture. This may cause severe pain and may worsen the injury.
Reassure the patient and encourage relaxation by being calm and providing assurance of immediate help. Call for an ambulance or medical assistance.
Assess the patient rapidly for any signs of deformity, open injuries, tenderness, and swelling. Also, check for the inability to move the injured area or any sign of bleeding.
When there is bleeding, apply pressure on the wound to prevent blood loss.
r.i.c.e. method of treatment
- R – REST - Have the patient rest the affected area and prevent any movement to reduce pain. Support the fractured part or encourage the patient to support it.
- I – IMMOBILIZE – Immobilize or stabilize the injured area on the ground. If movement is needed, apply splints on either side of the injured part for stability. Broad bandages are useful in preventing joint movement on either side of the break in the bone. Splints should always be padded, and any space in between the body and the splint must be filled in gently with more padding to keep it from moving. Secure the splint properly. If the foot is suspected to be fractured, the foot and ankle must be immobilized. Make sure the bandages are not too loose or too tight and repeat this check about every 15 minutes. Make
- C – COLD – If available, apply a cold pack, ice, or cold water in a plastic bag to the injured area. Remember to put a folded gauze pad or cloth between the ice pack and the skin to prevent skin damage. Leave the ice pack on for about 20 minutes. Do not apply the cold compress directly on an open fracture.
- E – ELEVATE – Always elevate the injured part above the heart level, if it’s possible. However, do not elevate it if you suspect a broken bone or if moving the area will cause pain.
- If you suspect a fracture, you can apply splints. Use paddings between the body part and the splint. Make sure the circulation is not cut off.
- You can apply an arm sling if the injured part is the upper limb.
- If the person doesn’t appear to be breathing or has become unconscious, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Remember, call for medical help if:
- you suspect the fracture is in the patient’s back, neck, or head
- the fractured bone has pushed through the skin
- there is heavy bleeding
- Regardless of which part of the body is affected by a fractured bone, it is vital to call an ambulance or medical help. A broken bone may lead to many complications, some of which are potentially life-threatening.
spine injury first-aid
If you suspect a back or neck (spinal) injury, do not move the affected person. Permanent paralysis and other serious complications can result. Assume a person has a spinal injury if:
- There's evidence of a head injury with an ongoing change in the person's level of consciousness
- The person complains of severe pain in his or her neck or back
- An injury has exerted substantial force on the back or head
- The person complains of weakness, numbness, or paralysis or lacks control of his or her limbs, bladder or bowels
- The neck or body is twisted or positioned oddly
- Get help. Call 911 or emergency medical help.
- Keep the person still. Place heavy towels or rolled sheets on both sides of the neck or hold the head and neck to prevent movement.
- Avoid moving the head or neck. Provide as much first aid as possible without moving the person's head or neck. If the person shows no signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement), begin CPR, but do not tilt the head back to open the airway. Use your fingers to gently grasp the jaw and lift it forward. If the person has no pulse, begin chest compressions.
- Keep helmet on. If the person is wearing a helmet, don't remove it. A football helmet facemask should be removed if you need to access the airway.
- Don't roll alone. If you must roll the person because he or she is vomiting, choking on blood or because you have to make sure the person is still breathing, you need at least one other person. With one of you at the head and another along the side of the injured person, work together to keep the person's head, neck and back aligned while rolling the person onto one side.