Wilderness: Fractures or Dislocations (cont.)
Fractures or Dislocations Treatment
If medical attention is not readily available, try the following guidelines to treat a fracture or dislocation:
- Apply a cold pack to the area of fracture or dislocation to decrease swelling and to relieve pain.
- Flush open wounds associated with compound fractures with clean, fresh water and cover them with a dry dressing.
- Splint the injured area to keep it from moving. Support a broken limb by using the best material available for a splint, such as sticks, part of a backpack frame, or other stabilizing device. Wrap tape around the splint and the extremity affected. For example, if a forearm is broken, the splint should run from the wrist to the upper arm and support the arm without repositioning it.
- Monitor the extremity near the fracture or dislocation, assessing any loss of sensation, decreased temperature, and pulse.
If medical attention is unavailable, realigning the fractured or dislocated extremity may restore circulation
and save the limb but may also result in further damage to the tissue, blood vessels, or nerves.
Pain may be relieved with 1-2 tablets of acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours or 1-2 tablets of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 6-8 hours.
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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