Emergency First Aid for a Broken Arm

First aid medical emergency kit
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A broken arm can be a very painful injury. If you suspect that someone has a broken arm, it is important to act quickly and perform appropriate first aid. This blog post will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to perform first aid for a broken arm.

STEP 1: Determine if Someone Has a Broken Arm

When you suspect that someone has a broken arm, it is important to look for certain signs and symptoms. These include:

  • Severe pain in the arm 
  • Swelling or bruising in the affected area
  • Deformity in the arm or hand
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers or hand
  • Difficulty moving the arm or hand
  • Grinding sensation with movement
  • An open wound where the injury occurred 

When to Call 911 for a Broken Arm

If the person is seriously injured, you will want to call 911 immediately. This includes additional injury to the victim’s neck, back, or head. If there is a bone sticking out of the skin or the bleeding won’t stop after firm pressure for several minutes, it’s time to call 911. Also seek emergency help if their hand is cold or blue—this indicates that they’re not getting enough blood flow to the arm, and they need medical attention right away. 

In addition, monitor the person's vital signs. Check for signs of shock, such as pale skin, sweating, dizziness, or fainting. If any of these signs are present, call 911 immediately. 

If the injured person is not experiencing any of these symptoms, then you can continue with the other broken arm first aid steps and get them to a hospital or clinic to be examined by a medical professional. 

STEP 2: Immobilize the Arm to Prevent Further Injury

Fractured arm in a splint

If someone has a broken arm, it is important to immobilize the affected limb as soon as possible. This will help prevent further injury and reduce pain. Immobilizing an arm can be done with a splint or a sling, based on the materials you have available. Let's take a closer look at each of these options. 

How to Make a Splint for a Broken Arm

A splint can be an improvised device that is used to support and immobilize a fractured limb and prevent unnecessary movement. It can be made from anything that is rigid and can be attached to the limb, such as sticks, a ruler, a rolled-up magazine, or even pencils. If you have an elastic bandage, use that to secure the splint in place. To make a splint, simply follow these steps: 

1. Place the injured limb in the desired position 

2. Place whatever you are using for the splint on either side of the limb 

3. Tie the splint securely in place with strips of cloth, a belt, an elastic bandage, shoelaces, etc. 

4. If possible, elevate the injured limb above heart level to reduce swelling

Why Use a Splint? 

In an emergency situation, immobilizing an injured limb with a splint helps to prevent further damage and provides support until the patient receives treatment. An arm splint is an ideal way to do this because it's quick and easy to apply, and it doesn't require any special training. Make sure that the splint is secure and does not move around, as this could cause more damage. 

How to Make a Sling for a Broken Arm

A fractured arm in a sling
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Another way to immobilize an injured arm is by using a sling. A sling is a piece of cloth that is used to support an injured limb by suspending it from the neck or shoulder. If you do not have a piece of cloth, you can use a scarf, belt, sweater, pillowcase, or even a tie. To make a sling, simply follow these steps: 

  1. Tie a loop in the material
  2. Gently lace the loop around the patient's neck 
  3. Position the arm so that the hand is resting across the abdomen
  4. Adjust the fit of the sling so that it is in a comfortable position 

Why Use a Sling? 

A sling helps to support the weight of your arm and keep it in a stationary position. A sling can be easily improvised in an emergency situation to minimize pain, reduce swelling, and prevent additional injury. 

What to Do if the Bone Is Out of Place

If the bone is out of place, do not try to put it back in place yourself. This could cause further damage. Instead, immobilize the arm by splinting it or making a sling. Once the arm is immobilized, seek medical help as soon as possible.

What to Do if a Broken Bone Has Pierced the Skin

​​If the bone is protruding from the skin, do not try to push it back into place. This could cause further injury. To stop the bleeding, apply firm pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. If blood soaks through the cloth, don't remove it—just add more cloth on top of it and keep applying pressure. If the bleeding doesn't stop after several minutes of firm pressure, then call 911 and continue to apply pressure until help arrives. 

What to Do if the Person Won’t Let Me Help Support the Injury?

If the person with the broken arm is conscious and able to communicate, ask them how they would like you to help support the injury. If they are unable or unwilling to communicate, gently support the injured arm with a pillow or towel. 

If the person simply doesn't let you help support the injury, don't force them. Instead, try to keep them calm and comfortable until help arrives. Once emergency services arrive, they will be able to provide further assistance. 

STEP 3: Reduce Pain and Swelling

To reduce pain and swelling, safely elevate the arm above heart level and apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. Do not apply ice directly to the skin—wrap it in a towel first. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen according to package directions.

STEP 4:  Seek Medical Assistance

Doctor showing xray to patient with broken arm
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You should always seek medical help after sustaining a broken bone. The bone may need to be reset, and you may need to wear a cast, brace, or splint to keep it in place while it heals. Depending on the severity of the break, you may also need surgery. Without proper treatment, broken bones can heal improperly, which can lead to long-term pain and problems down the road. 

What to Expect at the Doctor's Office

When you go to the doctor's office, they will likely take an X-ray of the injured area. This will help them determine whether or not you have actually sustained a break. In some cases, a CT scan may also be ordered. Once the doctor has made a diagnosis, they will develop a treatment plan for your particular case. 

Treatment For Minor Arm Fractures 

If you have recently suffered a minor arm fracture, you may be wondering what the best course of treatment is. In most cases, the doctor will set the bone and then put on a cast or splint. This will help to immobilize the area and allow it to heal properly. Depending on the type of fracture, you may need to wear the cast for several weeks or even months.

Treatment For Serious Arm Fractures

More serious arm fractures may require surgery to repair the break. This usually involves placing metal rods, screws, or plates into the bone so that it can heal properly. After surgery, the arm will be placed in a cast to help keep it immobile and protect the healing bone. 

How Long Will a Broken Arm Take To Heal?

The healing time for a broken arm varies depending on the type and severity of the fracture. A simple break, where the bone has not moved out of place, will typically heal within 4-8 weeks. A more complex break, where the bone has moved out of place, may take longer to heal and may require surgery to correct. In general, most people can expect to have their cast removed and full use of their arm back within 3-4 months.

Learn More: Broken Arm Healing Time 

Get the Cast21 Alternative for Your Broken Arm

Cast21 cast alternative

A broken bone is a serious injury that can take weeks or even months to heal. During this time, it is important to keep the broken bone immobilized so that it can heal properly. Traditionally, this has been done with plaster or fiberglass casts. However, these materials can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to wear. They also make it difficult to keep the affected area clean and dry.

Fortunately, there are now some great alternatives to traditional casts. Cast21 is a revolutionary new product that is shaking up the world of orthopedic casting and bracing. 

The Cast21 system uses a unique blend of medical-grade materials to create a custom-fit and waterproof support for broken bones. The sleeve's open lattice design provides superior breathability, making our alternative casting system much more comfortable to wear and easier to keep clean. It also allows you to shower normally, making the healing process much easier. 

If you are interested in getting Cast21, contact your local doctor to see if it is an appropriate part of your treatment plan. You can also contact us to see if there is a clinic in your area that offers our product.

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