A fracture is the medical term for a cracked or broken bone. When the bone has separated but isn't visible, this is called a 'simple' or closed fracture. An X-ray may be needed to verify this type of fracture. However, the bone is most likely broken if the person can't move or put weight on the injured part; if it's very painful or looks unusual in shape; if the victim felt the bone snap or crack; or if bone segments are scraping against each other. An open or compound fracture is obvious. Here, the bone will be protruding from the skin. Never try to force a broken bone back into place; this can cause further injury. Apply a splint to the limb in the position that it was found, and go to a hospital immediately. By preventing movement, a splint relieves some pain, and keeps the injury from getting worse. Any rigid material may be used; preferably, it should be long enough to immobilize the joints above and below the break. Tie the splint firmly to the limb, without cutting off circulation. If the person has severe back or neck pain, don't move them unless their life is in immediate danger. If the victim must be moved, put the person on a wide board long enough to support the body. Don't twist the person. Tell the victim to lie still, while you call 9-1-1. For more information on broken bones, consult a doctor.
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