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 difficult to move or hurts when moving, being touched, or bearing weight
What to Do
- Take clothing off the injured area.
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth.
- 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:
- Use safety gates at bedroom doors and at both the top and bottom of stairs (for babies or toddlers).
- Follow helmet and safety gear rules for young athletes and any child riding a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, scooter, or any type of skates and roller blades.
- Do not use infant walkers.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018