Fractures (Broken Bones) in Children: Causes and Treatment

Fractures in Children – Types, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Barring a few, children can sometimes be rough while playing and it wouldn’t be a big surprise if your kid came back home complaining of pain. If your kid has been diagnosed with a fracture, here is what you need to do.

What Is a Bone Fracture?

As the name suggests, a bone fracture is a condition where there is a crack or a small break in the bone. They are categorised into two types:

1. Open Fracture

This is the case when there is an open wound, usually as a result of bone fragment breaking through the skin. An open fracture is dangerous and requires immediate attention as bacteria, and other agents can cause an infection.

2. Closed Fracture

There is no open wound, and the risk of infection is minimal. However, there may be a soft-tissue injury, and the form of treatment would be based on the extent of damage to the soft tissue.

Common Types of Bone Fractures in Children

Some likely fractures your child may get include:

  • Buckle Fracture

This fracture is unique as the bone doesn’t break but simply bends or buckles. The fracture occurs in young kids because the bones are still growing and are flexible. Children who have this type of fracture respond well to treatment and heal in no time.

  • Greenstick Fracture

In this type of fracture, the bone first bends and then breaks. However, it is incomplete as the bone is not fully broken.


  • Supracondylar Fracture

This usually happens when your child falls to the ground on an outstretched hand and breaks the bone near the elbow. Sometimes, the broken bone (humerus) can affect the nerve which controls motor function making it difficult for them to bend the tip of the index finger or do the okay sign. The broken elbow recovery time in children is six weeks.

  • Mid Shaft Forearm Fracture

This form of injury occurs in the middle part of the forearm and happens due to a fall from monkey bars or a trampoline. It is an open fracture, and in most cases, both bones (radius and ulna) in the forearm are affected. Studies have shown that children who are lesser than ten years old can heal from this even without surgery.

  • Galeazzi Fracture

The fracture affects the radius bone that is located near the wrist. One of the possible ways in which this can happen is if your child falls down sideways on their wrist.

  • Monteggia Fracture

This is a fracture that mainly affects the area a few centimetres below the elbow. In sixty per cent of the cases, only the ulna bone is affected. However, there is a chance that the radius is either dislocated or even broken. This is a severe injury and may require surgery.

  • Metaphyseal Fracture

This is related to an injury to the growing cartilage of long bones such as the tibia, femur, etc. This form of fracture can take place when your child has been yanked by a limb in a violent manner. The healing time is roughly three months.

  • Clavicle Fracture

This involves an injury to the collarbone. Clavicle fracture in children occurs as a result of falling on the shoulder or an outstretched arm.

What Causes Fractures

Some of the many ways that fractures occur in children include:

  • Falling into an awkward position
  • Getting a finger wedged between objects
  • Getting limbs accidentally twisted

Sign and Symptoms of a Bone Fracture in Children

These include:

  • Swelling
  • Visible deformity
  • Pain
  • Difficulty in moving the injured limb


How Is a Broken Fracture Diagnosed?

Some diagnostic procedures include:

  • X-Ray

This procedure uses electromagnetic waves to get pictures of internal parts of the body such as bones.

  • CAT scan

Short for computer tomography, CAT scan is a more detailed X-ray that uses technology to produce images of the body from different angles. The quality of imaging is greater than an X-ray.

  • Ultrasound

A device known as a transducer uses sound waves to map out the internal structure of the body. Similar in capabilities to an X-ray, an ultrasound can be used in children, especially for shoulder related injuries.

How Is a Fracture Treated?

Treatment of the fractured bones is done with the help of a cast in children. Surgery is usually not recommended. If the bone is not properly aligned, then they are placed back to their original position and held there which is known as reduction.

Home Treatment

Some of the ways that a fracture can be dealt with at home include

  • Applying a cold compress will help reduce the swelling.
  • Consult an orthopaedician at the earliest.


How Does a Bone Fracture Heal?

Blood rushes in immediately after the fracture, and the protein in them known as haematoma is used to plug the gap in the bone. The growth of new bone takes place at the edges of the broken bone. Additionally, cartilage tissue is produced to fill in the gaps which are eventually replaced by stronger cartilage until the bone is fully healed.

Broken bones in children are common. However, kids have a very resilient skeletal structure when compared to adults and healing is relatively fast.

Also Read: Greenstick Fracture in Kids

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