Little Bones Broken: Common Fractures in Children

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by Dr. Christopher Haines

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01.14.2022

Little Bones Broken: Common Fractures in Children

Kids Health Secrets | Blue Emerald Wellness

common types of bone fractures in kids

Bone fractures are a common injury in children. Toddlers, children, and teens can experience fractures from falls, sports injuries, or even just regular playtime activities. Let’s discuss what a bone fracture is, the common types of bone fractures in kids, and what to expect when it happens.

What is a bone fracture?

A fracture is the result of a bone being broken and typically occurs when there is too much force applied to the bone. The severity of a fracture depends on the force applied, how many bones were broken, where they broke, and what type of break it was (open or closed).

What if I suspect my child has a bone fracture?

If you suspect a fracture, you should be evaluated by your pediatrician or seek care in the emergency department. In the emergency department, your child will likely receive x-rays to look for fractures unless the injury is minor and the physician thinks it is a sprain or bruise. X-rays help evaluate the type of fracture and severity in order to determine what treatment best fits your child’s situation. If your child does sustain a fracture, most emergency departments will initially apply a splint (a type of half cast) to allow for swelling and refer your child to an orthopedic (bone) doctor in the next several days for a cast and further evaluation. Most fractures in children heal faster than adults and will be better in 4-6 weeks.

Wrist Bone Fractures

Wrist fractures in children

A wrist buckle fracture is one of the most common types of bone fractures in children. This occurs most commonly from falling on an outstretched hand while running.

A buckle in the bone looks like a “bump” in the bone or how it looks when there is a buckle in asphalt in the roadway. It occurs secondary to force applied from the hand towards the elbow. Symptoms of a wrist buckle fracture include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the arm. Wrist fractures can commonly involve the radius and ulnar bones.

Treatment for this fracture includes initial splinting followed by casting for 4-6 weeks, rest and pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve discomfort. In addition, elevation of the affected extremity will alleviate pain.

Clavicle Bone Fractures

 

Clavicle fractures are a common type of bone fracture in children

Clavicle fractures occur when there is a break in the collarbone; these are quite common among children of all ages. They occur during sports, from playground equipment as well as just during everyday play. This type of fracture results from falling on an outstretched extremity or directly on the shoulder or clavicle area.

Symptoms of this type of fracture include pain, swelling, bruising, as well as an obvious bump or deformity on the clavicle bone itself. Young children with a clavicle fracture may not pinpoint where they have pain and just not use the arm.Treatment usually involves wearing a sling until the bone heals which can take several weeks. Additionally, treatment includes pain medication; acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen and rest.

All clavicle fractures in children should be re-evaluated by an orthopedic doctor to monitor healing. In adolescents and teens, clavicle fractures usually heal on their own and do not require surgery. However, occasionally, clavicle fractures will require surgical intervention in older adolescents because of malunion (in which the two ends of the bone do not heal together properly).

Toddler Bone Fractures

Toddler fractures in children

Toddler fractures are a type of fracture that commonly occurs in children between the ages of one and three years old.

This type of fracture is caused by quick movements while running or playing. Toddlers with this type of fracture will usually not want to walk or will limp because of the pain.

Treatment for toddler fractures usually involves a cast or splint for four to six weeks. If you suspect a toddler fracture you should get an evaluation by your pediatrician or seek care in the emergency department.

Supracondylar Bone Fractures

Supracondylar fractures are a common type of bone fracture in children

Supracondylar fractures are a type of fracture that occur near the elbow and are common in children between the ages of four and eight years old.

This type of fracture is caused by a fall, collision, or sports injury. A common mechanism for supracondylar fractures includes monkey bars and playground equipment. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the arm.

There are three types of suparcondylar fractures that delineate based upon the amount of fracture displacement. Fractures that are severely displaced my require surgery. Those that do not require surgery can be treated with a cast or splint for four to six weeks. Rest and pain medication is also necessary during this time.

Finger Bone Fractures

Finger fractures in children

Finger fractures in children are also common and can be caused by a fall, collision, or sports injury.

This type of fracture is usually seen in the distal phalanx (the bone at the end of your finger). Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and deformity. Treatment typically involves wearing a splint for four to six weeks. Rest and pain medication is also necessary during this time.

If your child has any of these common types of bone fractures, please bring them in for an evaluation by your pediatrician or orthopedic doctor. Treatment will vary depending on the type and severity of the fracture, but all these fractures can be treated successfully. If your child experiences any of these types of fractures, please seek medical attention.

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The information in this blog is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general information purposes and is the opinion of staff at Blue Emerald Wellness. Please do not delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you read in this blog.

Reviewed by Dr. Christopher Haines

Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy here.

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