First-Aid Treatment for Broken Bones, Joint Injuries, and Sprains

About how to treat someone with broken bones, joint injuries or sprains.


If you are untrained, it is safest to treat apparent joint injuries and sprains as if they were broken bones. This is because it is often difficult to determine whether a bone is actually damaged in an area that appears to be only bruised or strained. Even physicians require X rays to confirm the site and nature of such damage.

The elderly and persons afflicted with certain diseases are more likely to suffer fractures (broken bones) in a fall because of the brittleness of the bones due to a lack of calcium and other minerals important to the skeletal system.


Pain, swelling, bruising, or deformity over the injured area; loss of power or movement of a limb; grating when the ends of the bone rub together; unnatural mobility of the area. Also, no symptoms may be apparent, but the nature of the accident will indicate that bones could have been broken.


1. First, treat any bleeding from the injury, as well as any breathing difficulty.

2. Do not allow the person to place weight on the injured area.

3. Treat for shock.

4. Do not try to move the patient yourself. This is particularly important in fractures (or suspected fractures) of the neck, spine, and hip.

5. Get medical help or, if necessary, proper instructions on moving the patient. If the patient must be moved, apply splints and/or some other form of support that prevents movement of the damaged bones. Unlike many other injuries, one normally has more time to consider the proper handling of broken bones; it is important in preventing future deformity of the bone to immobilize it properly at the time of the accident.

6. Cold compresses (cold, wet cloths) may be applied gently to the injury while waiting for medical assistance.


While recovering from a properly bandaged or plastered broken bone, the following measures will aid the healing:

1. Move the surrounding extremities and joints to ensure good circulation and minimize wasting of muscles. For instance, exercise the fingers of an arm set in a cast.

2. With doctor's approval, bathe daily in hot and cold water or apply compresses to areas such as the wrist and ankle (if they're not set in plaster). Water therapy increases the circulation to the bone.

3. During the period of healing, be sure to supply a nutritious diet, including foods containing calcium. Restrict sugar intake since it inhibits calcium absorption.

4. Comfrey, traditionally called "knitbone," is an effective and natural healer for broken bones. It is available in tablet, root, and leaf form.

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