Broken Bones

What to look for, and 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!

Children’s bones are softer than adults, and in a way stronger due to a thicker, more dense fibrous membrane called periosteum. This membrane is much more active in children than adults, and holds blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrition to the bones which allows for faster healing times. But because it is much thicker, the strength of it makes diagnosing a break or fracture harder to do. You should look for these classic signs of broken bones if your little ones take a hard spill.

  • Swelling and bruising
  • An obvious deformity
  • The inability to bear weight on the affected area
  • The inability to move the injured area
  • Pain that worsens when moved or with touch applied with pressure
  • Warm and/or redness around the injury
  • A bone protruding from an open wound
  • If you notice any of these signs, give Just 4 Kids a call. If you are unsure, still please reach out to us. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Don’t panic! One of the best things you can do for your child is to stay calm and collected. Follow these steps when transporting them to urgent care or the emergency room.

  • If you can, remove any clothing from the injured area.
  • Try to stop any bleeding if there is any.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the affected area.
  • Try to keep the injury immobilized. Keeping the injury in the position you found it in may help prevent any further damage from occurring.
  • If you have a simple splint, use it to protect the broken bone until your child can be seen by a doctor. Cardboard makes a great temporary splint, you can wrap it with a bandage or tape.
  • See a doctor right away.
  • Refrain from feeding your child or giving them much to drink in the event that they might need surgery.
  • If you suspect a serious injury to your child’s head, neck, or spine, call 911 or take them to the ER instead of an urgent care facility. If your child has a broken bone that is protruding through the skin, or if it looks like it could be a severe injury, you should take them to the emergency room.

Just 4 Kids is always happy to help even the littlest of patients, but some situations are better served in a hospital setting. If you are questioning whether or not you should bring your child to us or to the ER, give us a call. We will help you figure out which would be best suited to treat their injury.

Taking care of a broken bone is incredibly important, as children’s bones are constantly growing. If a fracture is not healing properly, it can create many problems in the future that create a hassle of their own. Depending on the age of your child, the bone affected, and the type of fracture that occurred, the treatment type and duration will be determined by the doctor. Most broken bones are treated with a cast or splint.

Healing bones take time, and can be a frustrating thing for children and their parents alike. Use these tips to help your child.

  • Feed your child a well balanced diet. Foods that have plenty of vitamin D and calcium will help give their body what it needs to heal.
  • Take care of the cast or splint. It will most likely be sweaty and/or itchy. Encourage them not to stick objects down in the cast to scratch as items frequently get stuck inside!
  • Make sure to follow all of your doctors recommended instructions and attend follow up appointments. A broken bone can heal quickly with the right treatment and proper care.

We hope you never have to experience having a child break a bone, but if you do, know that we are here for you! If you have any questions, give Just 4 Kids a call. There are no stupid questions when it comes to the health and safety of your children.