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What To Do When You Can’t Get To The Doctor

With our recent flash freeze in Birmingham, driving on the roads has become very treacherous. Simply walking down the street or sidewalk is hazardous as well.

My kids are running around enjoying the snow but have taken a few slips and falls already. If your child takes a tumble and ends up with a hurt wrist, forearm, or elbow, you may not be able to get medical attention right away. Many doctor’s offices are closed due to the weather and driving on the roads may still be hazardous for another day.

Fractures don’t really start to heal for about 2 weeks so even if the fracture is out of place and needs to be adjusted, waiting a day or two is not going to be a problem. If you can immobilize the injured area that tends to help ease the pain considerably. A simple wrist splint or sling will make due for a little while. If you don’t have anything like this available, you can make your own out of simple items you probably have around the house.

For a wrist splint, you can use some cardboard and an ACE wrap. If one layer of cardboard is not stiff enough you can fold it a few times and tape it shut with masking tape or duct tape. Don’t wrap the ACE wrap too tight because the injured area may swell and a tight wrap will become very uncomfortable.

For a sling you can use a scarf or even a belt. Tie it end-to-end to make a closed loop. Put the loop over your head and then put the injured arm into the loop. Fan the scarf open to support the entire forearm, from wrist to elbow. For additional support and immobilization you can wrap an ACE wrap around the injured arm and the torso to keep the entire arm pinned up against the body. This would help for a shoulder injury as well.

Taking simple over the counter pain relievers can be very effective if taken on a regular schedule. One very effective method is to take Motrin every 6 hours and Tylenol every 6 hours, alternating between them every 3 hours. For example, Motrin at noon, Tylenol at 3pm, Motrin again at 6pm, Tylenol again at 9pm… This is often very effective for short term pain relief. Icing the injured area is also helpful. Frozen vegetables work well as they will conform to the shape of the arm or elbow. You probably shouldn’t leave the ice on for more than about 20 or 30 minutes, especially around the hand. Leave the ice off for at least 30 minutes before reapplying it.

If the fingers start getting very pale or very purple that is something to be concerned about. If there is any sort of wrap on the arm, make sure it is loose enough that it is not affecting the circulation. If this doesn’t help, you really should get this evaluated right away. If numbness develops this same advice applies. Loosen up anything tight. If it doesn’t get better, this needs to be checked out. A little tingling in the fingertips that comes and goes is not anything to get worried about but if a large area goes numb, and stays numb, for more than a few minutes, there may be a problem that requires attention sooner rather than later.