Unless a fracture breaks the skin, it may be difficult to know whether a bone is broken or not and whether an ER visit is necessary. There are some very clear warning signs of broken bones, but it’s important to know how to respond to this type of injury and when to seek medical care.
Symptoms of broken bones
Broken bones can be incredibly painful, even if they are simple closed fractures, and it can be almost impossible to move the injured limb. Plus, the injured area will likely become very swollen and tender and may show signs of bruising almost immediately.
In some cases, a limb may appear “deformed” as a result of the fractured bones moving out of place. Oblique fractures (where the bone breaks diagonally) and comminuted fractures (where the bone breaks or shatters into more than two fragments) frequently cause a limb to look out of place.
If you think that a limb is broken, it is wise to visit the ER. It could be a sprain or a strain that still needs urgent medical attention, and if you’rein a great deal of pain the ER will be able to administer appropriate medication to manage this.
First aid for broken bones
Advice from Harvard Medical School states that in most cases, there is no need to move or straighten a broken bone. If the patient must be moved without ambulance assistance, splinting may be necessary. A splint can be created by carefully wrapping a heavy piece of clothing, a newspaper or a magazine around the broken limb, before tying it in place with pieces of cloth.
If a fractured limb is severely deformed or the area beyond the break is pale, blue and cold, it could be that the injury has blocked the limb’s blood supply. In these cases, it is advised to gently pull on the length of the limb to straighten it before splinting.
When to go to ER
If you suspect a bone has been broken, it is essential that you visit the ER immediately. In order to give a broken bone the best chance of healing, it must be assessed and treated by a doctor – with a cast or brace, or through surgery for more complex and severe breaks.
Depending on the severity of the broken bone, patients may have to wait hours to seek treatment in a busy hospital ER. At Physicians Premier’s freestanding ER in New Braunfels, patients can access high-quality treatment much faster, and in a more relaxed, calm environment than a hospital emergency room.
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