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First Aid & Emergencies

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Broken Hand Treatment

Call 911 if:

  • The person is seriously injured or unconscious.
  • Hand is numb or cold.
  • Skin under the fingernail is blue.
  • Bone is sticking out of the skin.
  • Bleeding doesn't stop after several minutes of firm pressure.
  • Blood spurts from the wound.

1. Stop Bleeding if Necessary

  • Apply firm pressure with a clean cloth until bleeding stops.
  • If the bone is pushing through the skin, do not touch it or try to put it back in place.

2. Control Swelling

  • Apply an ice pack (do not put ice directly against the skin).
  • If possible, remove any jewelry immediately.

3. Immobilize the Hand

If the person's hand is numb or cold or the skin under the fingernails is blue, do not move the hand or arm. Otherwise:

  • Have the person bend the arm at the elbow.
  • Do not try to straighten the hand if it bent or deformed.
  • Tie a splint on the lower arm with fabric or elastic bandages. Cardboard, rolled-up newspaper, or other stiff material can be used as a splint.
  • Make a sling and place the person's arm in it. Tie the sling around his or her neck.

4. See a Health Care Provider Immediately

5. Follow Up

  • The health care provider will likely take X-rays and check for feeling and range of motion in the hand to determine whether there has been nerve or tendon damage.
  • The health care provider may apply a splint or cast.
  • Surgery may be needed for more complicated fractures.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 17, 2013

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