Dislocations and Fractures (Broken Bones)

Soft Tissue
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

A joint (connection of two bones) is disrupted (one a bone has slipped out of joint). Dislocations are usually recognizable; there is obvious deformity and the joint appears crooked.
A broken bone. Fractures are sometimes recognizable due to deformity, such as an unusual bump under the skin or a crooked appearance, but many times you may not know a bone is fractured. Most often there will be swelling and/or pain around the fractured area. If you’re not sure if a bone is broken, such as a finger, try the tap test: lightly tap the tip of the injured finger. If a fracture is suspected, the percussion from the tap will cause pain at the site of the fracture.
When there is a dislocation or fracture, damage also occurs to tissue around the joint, including possible nerve damage. It is important to properly care for a dislocation or bone fracture to limit additional soft tissue damage.

1. DO NOT attempt to straighten or change the position of the bone or joint. Immobilize and splint the injury in the position you found it. Apply ice to the area if available.

2. DO NOT move the athlete unless you have the injured area immobilized. Try to keep the athlete still. Any further movement of the injured area may cause further damage. If you are unsure, it is best to call your local emergency number and allow trained personnel to handle the situation.

3. DO NOT move the athlete if they have sustained a fracture or dislocation to the hip or thigh.

4. If there is an open wound due to a compound fracture (bone sticking out through the skin), place clean gauze or sterile dressing over the wound before splinting the area.

5. If the athlete is unable to move, monitor the person, prevent for shock, and wait for medical emergency to arrive. Otherwise, splint and ice the area, and transport the athlete to the hospital for further treatment.

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