Broken Leg

How to Treat a Broken Leg

There are several important steps involved in properly treating a broken leg before seeking medical attention. First and foremost, in the event that you suspect a leg broken above the knee, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, continue on with these step-by-step instructions if you suspect a broken leg.

  1. Safety first! Make sure the victim is in a safe location. It is more important to worry about rescuers’ and the victim’s ongoing safety than to worry about the broken leg. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it.
  2. Control bleeding. If the victim is bleeding from their injuries, take steps to safely control the bleeding.
  3. Look for other injuries. If a victim is injured in one area that might be injured in another area. If a victim shows signs of injury to the head, neck, or back, DO NOT move the victim.
  4. Cover any broken skin with sterile dressings. If needed, the wound can be rinsed—try to use sterile water or saline solution.
  5. If an ambulance is responding, have the victim remain still and wait for the ambulance. If an ambulance is unavailable, the broken leg may need to be splinted. Be sure to immobilize the joints (knee, ankle, hip) above and below the break. Do not wrap the leg too tight.
  6. Put ice on the break to reduce swelling. Put a sheet or towel between the ice and the skin to prevent frostbite. Leave the ice on for 15 minutes, then remove the ice for 15 minutes.
  7. Elevate the leg above the level of the heart, if possible.
  8. Lay the victim on his or her back to reduce the chance of shock. Cover the victim with a blanket.

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