Does My Child Have A Fracture?
The risk of injury goes hand in hand with summer activities. We have tips to help you determine when your child might have a fracture requiring medical attention.
Outdoor sports and activities are a wonderful way for children to develop healthful fitness habits. Children’s bones are remarkably resilient to the rough and tumble of summer play; young bones have more flexibility and a thicker protective covering than adult bones. However, as children increase the amount of time they play during summer months, the risk of injury does increase. Fractures, more commonly known as broken bones, are a common childhood injury. In fact, for children under six years of age, fractures are the fourth most common injury.
Falls are the most common—but not the most serious—cause of fractures. The most damaging breaks usually occur as the result of car crashes. When breaks do occur, the fracture may be partial or complete. There are several types of fractures.
- Greenstick fractures occur when the bone bends like green wood, and breaks only on one side.
- Torus fractures occur when an impact buckles, twists, and weakens a bone, but doesn’t break it completely.
- A bend fracture refers to a bone that is bent, but not broken.
- Complete fractures are injuries in which the bone breaks all the way through.
- In a complete fracture, when the ends of the broken bone are still in position, it’s classified as a “non-displaced” fracture. When the broken ends are out of alignment, the fracture is “displaced.”
- If the bone ends of a complete fracture break through the skin, the fracture is an “open” or “compound” fracture. If the skin is intact, the fracture is “closed.”
It is important to have these bone injuries medically evaluated because if the fracture damages the growth plates located at the end of the bones, it can affect bone development.
Because fractures don’t always cause bones to break completely and separate, they aren’t always easy to detect. However, there are a couple of symptoms that generally accompany these injuries.
- There may be an audible snap or a cracking sound at the moment of traumatic impact when the bone breaks.
- A torus, complete, or bend fracture may be visibly obvious.
- Fractures are usually accompanied by swelling around the damaged bone or limb.
- If your child complains of pain and is unwilling or unable to use the affected limb normally, and if pain increases with movement of the limb, the bone may be fractured.
If you suspect that your child may have fractured a bone, don’t delay. Contact your orthopedic physician immediately. Children’s bones mend faster than adults, and a delay may result in poor bone healing.
The good news is that because children’s bones are flexible, their fractures rarely require a surgical repair. With prompt medical attention, and possibly a stabilizing cast to restrict movement and protect the injured bone as it heals, your child will soon be back to normal play.
Sports medicine: Expert bone, joint, and muscle care
From Olympians to pro athletes to youth sports and those that just want to be more active – Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
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