When you realized that you'd broken a bone, you probably rushed off to your local emergency room to have it looked at, x-rayed, and splinted. Once the splint is on, you might look forward to a few weeks of recuperation without having second thoughts at all. However, it is vital that you realize that not all splints are done properly. In fact, one study shows that splints were put on incorrectly over 90% of the time when done at the ER. You will need to follow up with your own general practitioner in order to ensure that your splint is well-placed and unlikely to be causing the following two problems, which could result in serious health issues going forward.
Splint Is Cutting Off Circulation
The person at the ER who splinted your arm or leg likely wrapped it rather tightly to keep it in place. You may understand that and think that your limb is in a great deal of pain because the bone was broken.
However, you need to know that the pain you're experiencing could actually be the lack of blood flow taking place because the splint has cut off all circulation to the area. How can you check this? You'll need to do a capillary refill check. This is a simple way to ensure that blood is reaching your toes or fingers, depending on where the splint is.
To do this check, gently press down on a toenail if you've got a leg splint and a fingernail if you've got an arm splint. The nail bed should become white or pale, because you're forcing blood from the area--your next task is observe how long it takes for the nail bed to fill with blood again and look as it usually does. That is the capillary refill you're looking for. It should take less than a couple seconds. If the nail bed takes longer than that to fill, you know that it's a possibility that the splint is cutting off circulation and you need to get to your doctor.
Bone Is Set at Wrong Angle
Another problem which necessitates a trip to your general practitioner is that the person who did your splint at the ER did not position your bone well. For example, your foot should be splinted perpendicular to the leg to allow for healing. If it is not splinted that way, you could end up with permanent walking issues. Heading to your personal physician can help you feel confident that your bone is healing as it should and is splinted properly.
With a clearer understanding of why a visit to a general practitioner is important after breaking your bone, set up an appointment as soon as you can. Your doctor can give you more pointers about dealing with a bone break.