A broken or cracked bone is a fracture. There are two types of fractures: open and closed. A closed fracture means the bone has been broken but the skin is intact. An open fracture, in which the skin is broken and bone is visible, is more dangerous and may involve severe bleeding. Open fractures also are more serious and need immediate attention.

A fracture may show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness over the bone
  • Severe bruising over the area
  • Unable to walk on the affected limb
  • Shooting pain
  • Visible deformity
  • Increased pain with movement
  • Bone protruding through the skin


  • Apply a rigid splint
  • Apply ice packs to the injury. For open fractures, use clean, preferably white, wrappings. Immediately applying cold will help decrease swelling and inflammation. If you think there may be a broken bone, protect and rest the injured limb immediately. To rest a bone effectively, immobilize the joint above and below the suspected fracture.
  • Seek professional help. Minutes and hours are not crucial unless the limb is crooked, arteries or nerves are injured, or the injury is causing great pain. A fractured limb that is protected and rested is likely to mend well, even if casting or splinting is delayed.