Leg or Arm Fractures
Leg or Arm Fractures
Bones can break (fracture) as a result
of a fall, blow, or other trauma. Most fractures aren't life-threatening. But they
very painful and lead to serious problems if not treated correctly. Getting proper
treatment is crucial for a healthy recovery.
When to go to the Emergency Room (ER)
Any fracture to the leg or arm should be considered a medical emergency. The arm or
leg should not be moved until help arrives. Don't try to straighten or adjust the
bone. This can damage the bone and injure nearby blood vessels and nerves. If an open
wound is present, cover it with a clean cloth to keep it from getting dirty and to
help prevent infection.
What to expect in the ER
Here is what will happen in the ER:
A healthcare provider will ask about your injury and examine you carefully.
Any wounds you have will be cleaned.
X-rays of the injured area will be taken.
Treatment depends on where the bone is broken and whether there is an open wound.
If you have an open wound, you may receive IV antibiotics and have the wound flushed
with sterile water. Most fractures are treated in two stages:
Reduction. The bone is put back into its proper position, if needed.
Immobilization. The bone is held in place so it doesn't move as it heals. For many
arm or leg fractures, this is done with a splint or cast. Serious or compound fractures
may need surgical repair. In that case, you will be referred to a bone specialist
Signs of a leg or arm fracture
Here is what to look for:
The leg or arm is crooked
A joint looks out of place
A bone sticks out (protrudes) from the skin
Weight can't be put on the leg or arm
The limb swells or is very painful
The limb is numb or tingles
A popping or snapping was heard during the injury
Online Medical Reviewer: Banerjee, Rahul, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Date Last Reviewed:
© 2000-2019 StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.