Broken Bones in the Child

April 27, 2016 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

1. Which bones do children commonly break?

Anytime a bone breaks, it is synonymous with fracture. The vast majority of pediatric fractures are in the upper extremity, with forearm fractures being the most common specific site. In fact, forearm fractures account for nearly half of all childhood fractures. Aside from forearm fractures, finger/hand fractures are common, as well as clavicle fractures. Kids can certainly sustain a fracture of the lower extremity, such as the shin bone or ankle, but this happens less often.

2. How can I tell if my child has a broken bone?

For kids that are old enough to talk and communicate with us, the signs of a fracture are more obvious. They will certainly let you know that the site of the fracture is painful, and they won’t want to use that extremity. Of course, if the fracture is severe, there may be obvious deformity and swelling. Younger kids who can’t quite let you know how they feel will not want to use their arm if it is fractured, or walk on their leg if that is the affected site. With any concern of a fracture, it is vital that your child undergo evaluation with x-rays.

3. How is a wrist fracture treated in children?

Wrist fractures in the pediatric population are generally treated with casting. In some situations a wrist brace may also be an appropriate course of treatment. Depending on the severity, the length of immobilization in a cast or brace ranges from approximately 3-6 weeks.

4. What happens if my child fractures the growth plate?

The growth plate (also known as the physis) is the soft part and area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. The important thing to remember is that because of their soft nature, growth plates are extremely vulnerable to injury, and are weaker than the surrounding tendons and ligaments. When a child fractures a growth plate, treatment is similar to any type of fracture, requiring a period of immobilization. If the fracture crosses the area of bone surrounding the growth plate, that type of fracture is generally more severe and typically requires a longer period of casting. More severe growth plate fractures are monitored even after casting is complete to ascertain that the bone continues to grow as expected.

5. Why is it important to have an expert treat your child’s fracture?

Children are not just “little adults” when it comes to their fractures, as their bones are growing and have unique qualities. Also, fractures in kids have distinctive properties, and special attention is required to diagnose and treat pediatric fractures and guarantee adequate healing while avoiding growth disturbance.

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