How to treat fractures - broken bones

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is a fracture?

It can be difficult to tell whether an injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain or strain. If in doubt, always treat as a fracture.

A break or crack in a bone is called a fracture.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms


  • Pain or tenderness at or near the site of the injury
  • Swelling
  • Deformity
  • Discolouration, redness, bruising
  • Loss of function
  • The patient felt or heard the break occur
  • Acoarse grating sound is heard or felt as bones rub together


What to do



Ask the patient to remain as still as possible.

Control any bleeding, cover any wounds and check for other fractures.

Immobilise the broken bone by placing a padded splint along the injured limb.

Secure the splint by passing the bandages above and below the break to prevent movement. Tie the bandages firmly and away from the injured side.

For a leg fracture, also immobilise the foot and ankle. Support the limb while bandaging.

Check that the bandages are not too tight and watch for signs of loss of circulation to the limb every 15 minutes.

Seek medical aid.


Fracture fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice


A dislocation is where a bone has been displaced from its normal position at a joint. Do not try to force a broken or dislocated bone back into place.

Sprains and strains

A sprain is an injury to the ligaments and capsule at a joint in the body. A strain is an injury to muscles or tendons.


This fact sheet identifies the signs and symptoms of concussion, and outlines the steps you can take to treat someone who you suspect has a concussion.

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