When you get to the emergency department you’ll get one or more pain relief options, including:
- Multiple possible pain medications by mouth, or directly into a vein for faster relief.
- Nerve block. A nerve block is a numbing medicine that’s injected straight into the nerves around the area.
You might also get a tetanus vaccine and antibiotics, depending on what caused your injury and/or the location and severity of the fracture.
Treatment for your compound fracture is summed up by the acronym P.R.I.C.E.:
- Protection: Before you go to the hospital, you should cover the open fracture with a clean, wet towel to avoid getting dirt inside it. You should also avoid using any of the joints near the break unless absolutely necessary to get help.
- Rest: You’ll heal faster and be less likely to cause more injury if you rest the body parts.
- Ice: You should ice above and around the compound fracture as soon as the injury occurs, but be careful not to contaminate the actual wound.
- Compression: Your limb or other body part will be held in place for healing with a cast or other device.
- Elevation: Elevate (raise) the injury above your heart to reduce the swelling. You may need to wait until after being seen in the emergency department to do this, depending on where the broken bone is located. Check with your healthcare provider.
You’ll then need to see a surgeon, who will need to move each of the fractured bones back into a regular, more normal position. This is called reduction of the fracture. You’ll get pain relievers, sedatives and/or anesthesia before the procedure.
During surgery your bones may be aligned using hardware devices, including:
Your bones will then be immobilized in a cast or other device.