A fracture is a term designated to describe a broken bone that typically occurs following a trauma, such as a fall, accident or sports participation. A fracture is a common injury that is generally divided into two categories: direct and indirect. A direct fracture involves a traumatized area, whereas an indirect fracture affects a bone at a distance from the affected area.

Fractures can further be divided into compound fractures, broken fractures and exposed fractures. Compound fractures include injuries, in which a broken bone pierces the skin, causing a risk of infection. Broken fractures include fractures whose bone segments have lost their anatomical alignment, and finally, exposed fractures are those where the broken bone has penetrated the skin and exposed it to the outside environment.

Although fractures are usually not life-threatening, they do require immediate medical attention. The severity of a fracture depends upon its location and the damage done to the bone and tissue near it. Serious fractures can have dangerous complications which is why it is important to diagnose an individual’s condition and determine the most appropriate form of treatment. Proper healing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.  

What are the symptoms associated with a fracture?

Symptoms associated with a fracture include the following:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Tenderness of the affected area
  • Bleeding at the affected area
  • Deformation of the joint
  • Limited range of motion
  • Discoloration and bruising

Symptoms may worsen with movement. It is important to avoid moving the individual with a fracture except if necessary in order to avoid further injury or complications.

What to do

In cases involving an exposed fracture, it is advisable to immediately call for medical help and proceed to apply pressure to the wound and cover it with a sterile gauze. Applying ice to the injured area may also be helpful.

In cases involving fracture of a limb where there is a tear in the skin, it is necessary to immobilize the limb and guide the wounded individual to the emergency room. It may also be useful to make a bandage that involves the upper and lower sides of the fractured area, leaving the lesion free.The bandage should prevent movement but not blood circulation, and it should be firm but not too tight.

If the individual is unconscious or unable to move, calling for medical help and performing CPR is top priority.

Exercise caution in the case of suspected or thoracic vertebral fractures. Any type of movement should be avoided and immediately contacting a medical rescue team is vital to preventing further complications from arising.  

What not to do

Instructions on what not to do in cases involving fractures and while waiting for a medical team to arrive include the following:

  • Avoid any massaging of the affected area
  • Avoid making any maneuvers to fix the limb that appears deformed
  • Avoid applying ice directly to the skin (wrap it in a towel or cloth)
  • Avoid removing clothing (cut the clothes if necessary)
  • Do not move an individual with suspected or thoracic vertebral fractures


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.