Broken Bones - What to Look For, What to Do

Broken bones. They are an unfortunate event that many kids will have one at some point in their childhood. At Just 4 Kids, we treat broken bones often and know the tell-tale signs of them. But as a parent, what should you look out for, and in the event of a broken bone, what should you do?

The first thing to understand is not all breaks will be the same. There are several different types of fractures, and are generally sorted into four different categories:

  • Displaced – The bone has broken in two or more parts and the two ends have moved so they are no longer aligned.
  • Non-Displaced – The bone has broken all of the way through, may or may not have moved, but is still in alignment.
  • Open – The bone has broken and has cut through the skin creating an open wound. The bone may have receded back underneath the skin and may not be visible. This wound is important to treat immediately because it creates a greater risk of infection in the bone itself.
  • Closed – The bone has broken but has not broken through the skin.

Many subtypes of fractures can happen to both children and adults. These are very common types of broken bones:

  • Comminuted – The broken bone is in several pieces.
  • Transverse – The fracture had broken perpendicular to the long part of the bone.
  • Oblique – The fracture is at an angle through the long part of the bone.
  • Pathologic – The broken bone has been weakened due to a disease.
  • Stress Fracture – The bone has a fine, hairline crack.

Because of the properties that are unique to children’s bones, there are a few fractures that only present themselves in children.

  • Greenstick – The bone has bent but not broken completely through.
  • Growth Plate – A fracture that has occured at the joint and can lead to shorter bone length.
  • Buckle  – Two bones compressed together have resulted in a fracture in one or both of them.

Without an x-ray and exam you won’t be able to tell which fracture type your child has. At Just 4 Kids we have a wonderful team of radiologic technologists to help us properly diagnose broken bones so that we can appropriately treat them. But it might be good for you to know the differences as a parent, so when you speak with one of our providers you have a better idea of what is going on. Who knows? Maybe it will show up on your next trivia night!


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