Broken bones

Parents have been casting their net of questions at me regarding what they should know after their child has broken a bone.

Well, let me help everyone bone up on this topic by sharing some information on fractures and casts.

Facts on fractures

Fractures are fairly common in children under six years of age. They usually result from a fall in younger children and possibly a sports injury in older children.

There are many types of fractures ranging from what we call a greenstick fracture (in which the bone bends like green wood and breaks on one side) to a complete fracture in which the bone breaks all the way through.

When should you suspect a fracture?

Usually, you will see swelling and there will be pain, tenderness to touching the bone, and an inability to move the injured limb.

While this could still occur with a sprain or strain injury to a ligament or tendon, you should still seek medical attention to make sure you don’t miss a fracture.

An x-ray usually confirms the diagnosis. If the growth plate at the end of a bone is affected or if bones are out of line, a pediatric orthopedic specialist will likely be consulted and surgery or realignment of the bones by that specialist under anesthesia will often be needed.

Whether or not surgery does occur for a fracture, a splint or more likely a cast will be needed until the bone has healed, which in children takes about half the time it takes an adult bone to heal.

Casting info

Today most casts are made of fiberglass which is a kind of plastic that is moldable and dries hard.

Some casts may allow placement of a waterproof liner that enables it to be safe for showering or going in the pool. Otherwise, a plastic bag or cover over the cast can protect it from water.

When should you worry about a cast?

Seek medical attention right away if:

– The cast feels too tight.

– A new pain occurs, or pain gets worse after the cast is on.

– The fingers or toes get swollen, change colors, or feel numb.

– The cast emits a foul smell suggestive of infection, or a non-waterproof cast or liner gets wet.

The length of time a cast is worn depends on the part of the body casted and what the injury is.

Hopefully, tips like these will cast just the right light on helping your child get through the diagnosis and treatment of a fracture.


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