Fractures of Bones, are accidents which generally arise from external injury. They are either simple, when the skin and other integuments remain sound; or double, when splinters are projecting, and the fracture communicates with a wound.
If, after a severe fall, or blow, the patient feels pain, accompanied with swelling, and tension of the contiguous muscles ; when a grating noise, distortion, and a loss of muscular power are perceived on handling the injured part, there is every reason to apprehend that the bones are broken. No time should then be lost in applying to a skilful surgeon ; as fractures and contusions, especially those of the ribs, are generally attended with febrile symptoms, which require the immediate use of the lancet. Meanwhile, the limb should be placed in the easiest posture, and the body kept quiet, cool, and open, by emollient clysters.
As soon as the size and situation of the fractured bone is ascertained, two or more splints made of leather or pasteboard, exactly fitting the injured limb, should be procured, and moistened previous to their application: thus, they will soon accommodate themselves to the shape of the parts, and serve to retain the limb steady with a very slight bandage; for which purpose, that of 12 or 18 tails is preferable, as being more easily applied and removed than the usual rollers. - Fractures or the ribs require adhesive plasters; the patient must always lie straight and rasy, without being exposed to opportunities of sneezing, laughing, coughing, or distending his sto-mach by hard food. Hence the lightest provisions, and frequent weak or diluent drink, are neces-tary. - The most proper external application in fractures, is a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water, with which the compresses and bandages should be repeatedly moistened;
The greatest care should be taken to retain the bones, after they are replaced, in their situation, by proper compresses, or bandages, which, however, should not be too tightly applied. Much depends on the age and habit of the patient, with respect to the time necessary for performing a cure ; though, in middle-aged per-sons, and under favourable circum-stances, a fracture of the leg or thigh bone may be healed in two months ; of the arm, in six weeks; of the ribs, clavicles, and bones of the hand, in three weeks. But in old age, a much longer time is generally required than during infancy.