Signs and symptoms of a broken wrist:
- pain (almost always present)
- deformity (wrist appears misshapen)
- numbness or tingling
- broken skin with bone visible
- limited mobility of the wrist
- Safety First! Make sure the victim is in a safe location. It is more important to worry about rescuer and victim ongoing safety than to worry about one broken wrist.
- Check ABC's. Make sure the victim has an Airway, is Breathing, and has Circulation.
- Control bleeding.
- Look for other injuries. If a victim shows signs of injury to the head, neck, or back, DO NOT move the victim.
- Cover any broken skin with sterile dressings.
If needed, the wound can be rinsed -- try to use sterile water or saline solution.
Open wounds may require stitches.
- If an ambulance is responding, have the victim remain still and wait for the ambulance.
Proceed to step 10 (ice on the break).
- If an ambulance is unavailable, it may be necessary to splint the broken wrist. Before splinting, check circulation, sensation, and motion.
- Check circulation by comparing the color and temperature of the injured wrist against the uninjured wrist.
- Check sensation by asking the victim which finger you are touching.
- Check motion by having the victim wiggle his or her fingers.
- To splint a broken wrist, follow the steps for splinting a broken arm. Be sure to immobilize the hand. Any movement of the hand will result in pressure on the wrist. Do not wrap the wrist too tight.
- After splinting, recheck circulation, sensation, and motion.
- Put ice on the break to reduce swelling. Put a sheet or towel between the ice and the skin to prevent frostbite. Leave ice on for 15 minutes, then remove ice for 15 minutes.
- Remember, DO NOT move a victim with suspected head, neck, or back injuries unless it is to keep rescuers or victim safe.
- Always practice universal precautions and use personal protective equipment whenever you may come in contact with blood or body fluids.
- Call 911 for a leg broken above the knee, a broken hip, a broken pelvis, a neck or back injury, or a head injury. It is still acceptable to summon an ambulance for a broken wrist, but try to call on the ambulance agency's non-emergency line if known.