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How to recognise and treat a broken bone

How to recognise and treat a broken bone

Posted by Jo O'Donovan   |   3 Mar

How to recognise and treat a broken bone


The three most common symptoms are:





Other symptoms include:

Loss of power – for example not being able to lift a broken arm

Unnatural movement – if you see this then if possible, prevent movement

Irregularity – for example lumps or depressions in the skin

Crepitus – the sound of the ends of broken bones grating

Noise – you may have heard or felt a snap as the injury happened



Immobilise the injury in the position that you find it (do NOT try to straighten it). Keep the casualty warm


Call 999/112 if:

You suspect an injury to the head or spine

There is difficulty breathing or reduced circulation

There is deformity, irregularity, unnatural movement or you can see bone through the skin

The casualty is in a lot of pain

Your need help to immobilise the injury and transport the casualty


If you have called 999/112 then you just need to keep the casualty still and cover any open wounds with a sterile dressing

If you don’t need an ambulance, splint or support the injury to transport to hospital.

It is important to ensure that the casualty does not eat or drink anything just in case they need to have a general anaesthetic later. It is likely that the broken limb will be properly aligned and then held in place with a plaster cast so that it heals in the correct position.

To find out how to tie a sling watch our video here:


Why not book onto one of our first aid courses to find out more.


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