Kids are curious and adventurous, but they’re not always graceful, so broken bones are rather common in kids. Still, that doesn’t make it any easier as a parent when you see your child in pain. With broken bones, the way they’re handled and treated can make all the difference in your child’s recovery. To equip yourself in case a broken bone does happen, read through this helpful guide from our board-certified pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioner at Children’s Wellness Center.
How to Know if Your Child Has a Broken Bone
Sometimes the biggest challenge with a broken bone is spotting it. A break typically causes pain, swelling, and redness, and your child may be unable or unwilling to move the injured area. Most people think that if you can move a limb, it isn’t broken, but that’s not always the case. If you suspect a broken bone, it’s best to get medical care for a definitive diagnosis.
What to Do if Your Child Breaks a Bone
A broken bone (or a possible one) isn’t something you can just let go and allow to heal on its own. But there are different ways to handle a potential break depending on its severity and its location.
If you suspect a broken leg, back, or neck, don’t try to move the child yourself. Call an ambulance and help your child lay still and stay calm until the ambulance arrives. The paramedics will have the tools they need to transport your child without doing additional damage. You should also call 911 if the injured limb is numb, white, or blue. In some severe breaks, the bone may break through the skin. If this happens, call an ambulance, especially if your child is bleeding heavily.
For a possible broken bone that doesn’t meet any of the conditions above, you should still take your child to an emergency room for x-rays, but you can transport them yourself rather than calling an ambulance. Before you hop into the car, immobilize the injured area by making a splint. Put soft padding around the limb and then place something straight and firm outside it, like a ruler. Secure this together to keep the limb protected and immobile. If your child’s symptoms are minor, you can also make an appointment with your regular pediatrician at Children’s Wellness Center, as we can often diagnose fractures in fingers, hands, wrists, etc.
To ease the pain, you can give older kids and teens a covered ice pack to place on the injury for a few minutes at a time. For babies and toddlers, though, their skin is too delicate for the extreme cold of an ice pack.
What to Expect if Your Child Breaks a Bone
If your pediatrician or emergency room doctor confirms that your child has a broken bone, the treatment is typically straightforward. If it’s a non-displaced fracture (meaning that the broken parts of the bone are still aligned correctly), your child will probably just need a cast. Because kids’ bones are still growing, they often heal at twice the rate of adults and the complication rate is low.
However, if your child has a displaced fracture, an orthopedic specialist will need to re-align the bone so it heals properly. Depending on the break, this can be done surgically or non-surgically. When the bone has been aligned, your child will then get a cast to let the bone heal.
But there is a down side to the fact that these kids’ bones are still growing. Your child has growth plates in their bones that affect how the bone develops, and if there is a break that affects a growth plate, it can lead the bone to grow improperly. If this is the case, an orthopedic specialist may need to do surgery to minimize this risk, and then he/she may continue to monitor the bone as it grows in the coming months or years.
It’s heartbreaking to see your kids in pain, especially when they were happy and playful just moments before. As important as it is to treat a broken bone properly, most kids heal from them quickly with nothing but a great story to tell. If you have other questions about broken bones in kids or other childhood injuries, call Children’s Wellness Center in Dunwoody. For more kids’ health tips from our pediatricians and nurse practitioner, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.Tags: broken bone treatments for kids, broken bones kids, common injuries in kids, how to tell if my child has a broken bone, what to do about a broken bone