First Aid For Fractures And Dislocations - WHS First Aid Kits
First Aid for Fractures and Dislocations
When a bone breaks, it is called a fracture. Some fractures are complete, e.g. when a long bone
snaps in half, whereas other fractures may involve only part of a bone breaking, e.g. the
“greenstick” fracture of childhood.
A fracture is called:
• closed where there is no break in the skin.
• open where the bone end has broken the skin or a wound is present with the fracture.
• complicated where an underlying organ is involved, e.g. a fractured skull with pressure on
the brain, or when a broken rib has injured the lung.
A dislocation is where a bone has been displaced from its normal position at a joint. Some
joints are more likely than others to dislocate under a sudden force, e.g. the shoulder or a
finger. As a general rule, a dislocation should be managed as a fracture.
Any injury that might involve either a fracture or dislocation should be treated with great
caution. All movement of the part should be discouraged and first aid confined to providing
soft padding and support in the position chosen by the victim. In a remote area, or where
ambulance or medical care is likely to be delayed for an hour or more, the trained first aider
may use simple immobilization techniques to reduce pain and spasm. In such cases, it is the
first aider’s responsibility to monitor the circulation in any affected limb to ensure that the
immobilization has not compromised blood flow or the nerve supply to an extremity.
Step by Step First Aid Procedure For Fractures:
Control any bleeding
• If a wound is present, check for any bleeding. If bleeding is present it may not be severe
because of pressure on nearby blood vessels from the displaced bone and soft tissues.
• Apply padding around the wound, or above and below the wound.
Do not apply direct pressure over the wound.
• Apply a sterile dressing loosely over the injured area and bandage it in place, but avoid any
direct pressure on the wound or broken bone.
Immobilize the injured part
• Reduce the pain and the risk of further injury by supporting and immobilizing the injured
• Effective immobilization requires an injured body part to be splinted against an uninjured
body part, although this may not be necessary if an ambulance is likely to be readily
Make the victim comfortable
• Help the victim into the position of greatest comfort without any unnecessary movement.
Use blankets, pillows or clothing for general comfort and support.
• Place generous padding around the injured area and in the nearby hollows of the body,
using soft towels, clothing, pillows or blankets, etc.
• If outside the metropolitan area where an ambulance may not arrive within an hour, and if
trained to do so, apply padding and/or splinting to stabilize and immobilize the injured part
— see next section.
Note: Do not move the victim or any injured part unnecessarily.
Follow the next steps from our first aid hand book. You can even find first aid procedure for
Fractures and dislocations that need special care like
• Fracture of the face or jaw
• Fracture of the collarbone or dislocation of the shoulder joint
• Fracture of the ribs
• Fracture of the upper arm
• Fracture or dislocation of the elbow
• Fracture of the lower arm or wrist
• Fracture of the hand and fracture or dislocation of a finger
• Fracture of the hip or lower leg
• Fracture or dislocation of the knee joint
• Fracture or dislocation of the ankle, foot or toes