Frequently Asked Questions
If a person is suspected of having a fracture, the following measures should be undertaken -
Try to maintain the patient still and composed. Prevent unnecessary movement arising out of anxiety or fear.
Examine the person closely for the presence of other injuries and call for medical help. If medical help is quickly available, hand over the patient to them for further treatment.
If there is a break in the skin surface, it can be rinsed to remove any visible dirt or other potential contamination. However, vigorous flushing or scrubbing of the wound should be avoided.
The broken bones can be immobilized with either a splint or string. Rolls of newspaper or strips of wood can be used. It is important to immobilize the area both above and below the injured bone.
Ice packs can be applied to reduce pain and swelling (not to be placed directly over the wound).
DO NOT move the person if a head, neck, or back injury is suspected as this can worsen the injury, leading to life threatening complications.
2. What are the complications of fracture?
Possible complications of fracture include -
Malunion i.e. the fracture heals in the wrong position.
Sometimes the normal development of that bone may be affected, thus raising the risk of a subsequent deformity.
Bone or bone marrow infection (osteomyelitis).
Bone death (avascular necrosis) - if the bone loses its blood supply, it may die.
3. How can fractures be prevented?
Prevention of fractures -
It is always advisable to wear protection while participating in adventurous activities/driving. The protection can be in the form of helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and shin pads.
The first and foremost thing to prevent fractures is to ensure a safe atmosphere. Stairways should be gated if possible. Any liquid spilled should be swabbed and the area must be wiped dry.
The use of handrails on staircases and non-skid mats near bathrooms and other places is recommended. This is especially valuable in a house with elders.
Teach children regarding safety and supervise them carefully. There is no substitute for supervision, no matter how safe the environment or situation appears to be.
Prevent falls by not standing on chairs, counter tops, or other unstable objects.
4. When should one call for emergency help?
Fracture is not a life-threatening condition. However, it is advisable to call an ambulance for emergency medical help under the following circumstances as fracture requires appropriate and immediate medical attention.
Possibility or suspicion of fracture involving the head, neck, back, hip, upper leg or pelvis.
Inability to completely immobilize the fractured area.
Presence of severe bleeding associated with the injury.
Lack of blood circulation in the affected area.
Projection of bone through the skin surface.