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Broken bones: What you should know

Getting injured is never pleasant. But broken or fractured bones can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

If you think you've broken a bone, it's important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Although broken bones aren't typically life-threatening, they do require immediate care.

How do you know if the bone is broken?

Unfortunately, unless you have medical training, it isn't always easy to tell if a bone is broken. However, there are some common warning signs that a bone may be broken:

  • Numbness
  • Bluish or bruised color
  • Swelling
  • Visible deformity
  • Intense pain
  • Heavy bleeding

Broken bones are extremely painful, so if you think you’ve broken a bone, try not to move the injured area. Although the area could just be badly injured and not broken, it's important to prepare for the worst and treat it like a break.

Treating a broken bone

First things first: If you think a bone is broken, it's important to seek professional medical care.

However, while you're waiting for help to arrive or are on your way to a nearby urgent care clinic, there are a few things you can do to lessen the discomfort of the break:

  • If there's any blood, apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. While this may hurt more, stopping any bleeding should always be a priority. When there’s blood, this may indicate a more serious break, one that likely needs to be treated at hospital emergency room.
  • Keep the injured area as still as possible, especially if the neck or back area has been injured.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice to the area to help alleviate some of the pain while waiting for medical care.

Fortunately, four out of five urgent care clinics (including Indigo Health) offer care for minor fractures. All Indigo locations have digital X-ray services onsite, so you can find out if the injured area is actually broken. If it is, your medical provider will likely stabilize it and place it in a temporary “cast.” Depending on the severity of the injury, you may also be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for follow-up care.

Breaking a bone can be a really painful, scary experience. So if you think you've fractured a bone, seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure you get the care you need.


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