Learn first aid for someone who may have a broken bone

Someone may have a broken bone if they are in a lot of pain, or are lying in an unnatural position, following a fall or a blow from an object.

1. Encourage the person to support the injury with their hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement.

Supporting the injury may help relieve pain and prevent further damage. Support the limb above and below the injury if possible.

2. Call 999 as soon as possible.

If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

3. Continue supporting the injury until help arrives.

Watch how to help someone who may have a broken bone (1 minute 47 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for someone who may have a broken bone

How can I tell if someone has a broken bone?


How do I support a broken bone?


If a bone looks unnatural or dislocated, should I put it back in place?


What do I do if the person won’t let me support the injury?


What if everything looks normal and they only have a bruise?


The person can move their limb or stand on it. Does this mean they probably haven't got a broken a bone?


 

How can I tell if someone has a broken bone?

They may be in pain, have bruising and swelling, or be lying in an unnatural position. In severe cases, the limb may be misshapen or have an open wound.

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How do I support a broken bone?

Do not move it unnecessarily. Place soft padding such as clothing or blankets around the limb to align it, if you can, but do not force it.

Continue to support the broken bone until help arrives.

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If a bone looks unnatural or dislocated, should I put it back in place?

No. If there is a dislocation or the limb looks broken, medical professionals will take care of it. Never attempt to put dislocations back in place as you may cause further damage.

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What do I do if the person won’t let me support the injury?

Try to encourage them to support the injury themselves by holding it. Cushions or clothing can also be used to support the injury.

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What if everything looks normal and they only have a bruise?

It is usually impossible to differentiate between a broken bone and a sprain or strain without an X-ray. If you are in any doubt about the severity of the injury, seek medical advice.

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The person can move their limb or stand on it. Does this mean they probably haven't got a broken bone?

Not necessarily. The only accurate way to diagnose a broken bone is to X-ray it. The person may still have a broken bone, even if they can move their limb. If the injury causes pain or discomfort and symptoms do not improve, seek medical advice.

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for someone who may have a broken bone.