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The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Muscles & Bones

Sprains, strains, and fractured bones. Here's what to do in the case of a distressed limb.

Fractures
Breaks can be hard to diagnose. If it’s painful, swollen, and/or the patient doesn’t want to use the injury, consider it broken–and splint it.

Lower Arm

1. Wrap soft padding, such as a T-shirt, fleece, or socks, gently around the arm.

2. Put a rolled
sock in the
patient’s palm.

3. Place a rigid
support–SAM splint, folded section of a closed-cell foam pad, or a stick–under the injury, making sure it’s long enough to support the hand.

4. Apply an ACE bandage from hand to elbow. Second choice: Bind the arm with strips of a wide, soft material, such as bandannas, at the hand and above and below the fracture site.

5. Secure the arm in a sling, then wrap a soft cloth around the sling and the patient’s torso to make a swathe.

6. Check fingers for circulation and sensation. Can the patient wiggle his fingers and feel it when you touch them? If not, the splint is too tight.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: How to Treat a Fractured Arm
Learn how to improvise a splint with common backpacking gear.

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