First Aid: Broken Bones
Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Bone
Your child may have a broken bone if:
- You heard a "snap" or a grinding noise during an injury.
- There's swelling, bruising, or tenderness.
- The injured part is hard to move or hurts when moving, being touched, or bearing weight.
- There is a deformity — this means that the body part looks crooked or different than it did before the injury.
What to Do
- Try not to move the injured arm or leg.
- Gently take clothing off the injured area. If this is very painful for your child, use scissors to cut off the clothing.
- Keep the injured limb in the position you find it.
- Put a simple splint on the broken area if you have one. A splint holds the bone still. This protects it until the child is seen by the doctor. To make a splint, you can use a small board, cardboard, or folded up newspapers. Wrap it with an elastic bandage or tape.
- Get medical care.
- Don't let your child eat or drink in case they need surgery.
Do Not Move Your Child and Call 911 Right Away If:
- You suspect a serious injury to the head, neck, or back.
- A broken bone comes through the skin. While waiting for help:
- Keep your child lying down.
- Do not wash the wound or push in any part that's sticking out.
Not every fracture can be prevented. But you can make a break less likely. Follow these tips:
- Help kids build strong bones by making sure they get enough calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity.
- Have kids and teens wear a helmet and safety equipment like wrist guards and knee pads when riding a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, scooter, or any type of skates and roller blades.
- Remind young athletes to use the needed safety equipment for their sport.
- Use safety gates at bedroom doors and at both the top and bottom of stairs (for babies or toddlers).
- Do not use infant walkers.
Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: July 2022
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- Broken Bones
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