Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Arm Injuries - Home Treatment

First aid for a suspected broken bone

  • Control bleeding camera.gif with direct pressure to the wound.
  • Remove all bracelets and rings camera.gif. It may be hard to remove the jewelry if your arm or hand swells. Swelling without removal of jewelry can cause other serious problems, such as nerve compression or restricted blood flow.
  • Do not try to straighten the injured arm. If a bone is sticking out of the skin, do not try to push it back into the skin. Cover the area with a clean bandage, and use a splint camera.gif to support the arm in its current position.
  • Splint an injured arm to protect it from further injury. Loosen the wrap around the splint if you have numbness, tingling, increased pain, swelling, cool skin, or other symptoms. The wrap may be too tight.
  • Use a sling camera.gif to support the injured arm.

Cast and splint care

If your arm is in a cast or splint, your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for your cast or splint. Try to move the uninjured parts of your arm as normally as possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone.

Home treatment for a minor injury

If you have a minor injury and do not need to be checked by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Rest and protect an injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
  • Ice will reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day.
    • For the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic beverages.
    • After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat and begin gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between heat and cold treatments.
  • Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, since this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours—a more serious problem may be present.
  • Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling.
  • Remove rings camera.gif, bracelets, watches, or any other jewelry from your hand and arm. It will be more difficult to remove the jewelry later if swelling increases.
  • Wear a sling camera.gif for the first 48 hours after the injury if it makes you more comfortable and supports the injured area. If you feel you need to use a sling for more than 48 hours, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
  • Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Antibiotic on hand
Slideshow
3d scan of fractured skull
Slideshow
 
Father putting ointment on boy's face
Slideshow
Person taking food from oven
Q&A
 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

sniffling child
Slideshow
wound care true or false
Slideshow
 
caring for wounds
Slideshow
Harvest mite
Slideshow
 

WebMD the app

Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Find Out More