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Fractures

A fracture occurs when too much pressure is put on a bone, causing it to break. Most fractures are a result of injuries from activities, falls, motor vehicle accidents or conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis. Fractures can cause severe pain and immobility until they receive treatment.

  • Types

    • Comminuted fracture. Bone broken into three or more parts
    • Displaced fracture. Misaligned bone at the break
    • Growth plate fracture. A break in an adolescent’s developing bone
    • Oblique fracture. Diagonal break in the bone
    • Open (compound) fracture. Broken bone that causes an open wound
    • Transverse fracture. Horizontal break in the bone
  • Symptoms

    • Broken skin with exposed bone
    • Bruising or bleeding
    • Disfigured limb or joint
    • Limited range of motion
    • Numbness and tingling
    • Severe pain
    • Swelling
  • Prevention

    • Ensure that children use the proper safety equipment when participating in sports or riding a bike or scooter.
    • Prevent falls by making surroundings as safe as possible. Watch for uneven surfaces, remove obstructions from walkways and keep rooms well lit.
  • Risk factors

    • Developing bones (children)
    • Overuse from repeated motion
    • Participating in heavy contact sports
    • Trauma, such as from a fall, motor vehicle accident or violence
  • Diagnosis

    • Physical examination. The healthcare provider will discuss symptoms and evaluate the injured area.
    • Imaging. X-rays will show the extent of the injury and damage to the bone. Further imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan, may also be necessary.
  • Treatment

    • Fracture reduction. A bone misaligned at the break may need to be repositioned to mend properly.
    • Casting and splinting. Wearing a cast or splint will stabilize the bone as it heals.
    • External fixation. Screws inserted into the broken bone and connected to an external metal bar may be needed to keep bones in place while they heal.
    • Open reduction and internal fixation. This operation uses screws and metal plates or rods to hold the bone together while it repairs.
  • Follow-up care

    • Avoid stressing the injured area until it has healed.
    • Specialized exercises can help rebuild muscle strength after an injury.
    • Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider to make sure the bone is healing correctly or if any initial symptoms, such as swelling, numbness or heightened pain, recur.