Dealing With Fractures And Dislocations

Fact Checked

A dislocation is when a bone has been displaced from its usual place within a joint. A fracture occurs when a bone has been broken.

A fracture is termed:

  • Closed – where the skin is not broken or damaged;
  • Open – where the bone has damaged the skin or an injury is noticeable with the fracture.


The fractured section should not be moved and first aid should be restricted by offering soft padding and support in the position selected by the casualty.

If an ambulance is expected to be late, the first aider can use simple techniques to lessen the pain and spasms. It is the first aider’s duty to observe the blood flow in any affected limb to make sure that the immobilization has not blocked any blood flow.

Quick Tip

The material posted on this page about skeletal injuries is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize, manage and help people with minor and major skeletal injuries register for a workplace approved first aid course with one of our training providers. We have training providers located in every major city in Canada.


Symptoms And Signs (Not all may be present)

  • Throbbing
  • Inflammation
  • Abnormality of the wounded area (when evaluated against the undamaged side of the body)
  • Loss of function of the wounded limb
  • Bruising or skin turning blue
  • Experiencing “pins and needles”, possibly a pinched nerve
  • A grating feeling if wounded bone ends are chafing together
  • Casualty might have heard the bone crack

How You Can Help

  1. Get medical assistance as soon as possible after a fracture or dislocation occurs

    Manage any bleeding

  • If a wound is noticeable, confirm any major bleeding, and if bleeding, place direct force surrounding any exposed bones.
  • Place padding surrounding the injury, or above and beneath the wound. Place a fresh bandage loosely over the wounded part.
  • Phone for an ambulance.
  1. Immobilize the wounded part
  • Decrease the pain and the possibility of further damage by preserving and immobilizing the wounded region. This basically means supporting the wounded part in a secure position.
  1. Make the casualty feel secure
  • Assist the casualty into a position in which they feel comfortable, without any movement. Make use of blankets, clothing or pillows to support the casualty.
  • Apply a generous amount of padding surrounding the wounded region and in the nearby hollows of the body, by means of spongy towels, clothes, cushions or blankets, etc.
  • If an ambulance is expected to be late for more than 1 hour, immobilize the wounded part.
  • DO NOT move the casualty or any wounded part if you don’t have to. This can cause further injury or strain.

When to Get Medical Assistance

  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible after a fracture or dislocation occurs.
  • A causality might still be able to move a fractured limb. When in doubt, get medical assistance.
  • If immobilization is required, use a fluffy cushion or blanket to support the ankle and foot. Use two compresses to secure the padding in place.
  • Make sure you get medical help as soon as you can.

 Related Video On Fractures And Dislocations

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The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
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