Fractures in children are very much unlike those in adults. The difference is that a kid’s bones are still growing, which means the inadequate treatment could easily result in deformities. As a parent, you may endeavour to protect your offspring from every misfortune that befalls them. But no matter how hard you are trying, you can’t keep them from harm at all times. Here are the different types of child fractures so you understand their severity and seek help from an experienced professional when they happen.
What is a Fracture?
Bones are those hard whitish structures that make up our skeletal systems. They are quite durable but, like every other part of the body, they are not safe from damage. When more force is applied than they can withstand, they tend to fracture. That said, children are more likely to suffer injuries than us, adults. Since they are still in the development stages, their bones are softer and therefore easy to break. Add to this the fact that kids love hopping, jumping, running and just about anything that can get them in trouble, and you can understand why they are so prone to these kinds of accidents.
Types of Child Fractures
With this one, the bone is broken and protrudes through the skin. This is usually more problematic than other injuries because we are talking about a wound that can easily get infected. Not to mention, the sight of a bone that is sticking out is nowhere near exciting, especially when it happens to your child. In fact, this situation is a medical emergency that needs to be addressed as soon as possible by a certified specialist.
Here, luckily, the child’s bone is not exposed because the skin is left intact. It’s also known as a simple fracture and is the better option, as difficult to believe as it sounds. Breaking a limb is never good news for sure, however, not having to worry about a wound and additional complications is a much-preferred outcome. Also, these fractures heal faster.
Displaced and non-displaced fractures
These refer to the position of the broken bone. In a displaced fracture, as it is suggested by the name itself, the bone slips out of alignment. It breaks into two or more pieces that are not lined straight up. With a non-displaced one, the bone may or may not break completely but it does not come out of place.
That part which stretches from the wrist to the elbow is known as the forearm. In children, it gets injured a lot. It is made of two bones: the one that is located on the side of the thumb is called the radius and the other is the ulna. In most cases, fractures happen when little ones fall on the ground with their arms outstretched.
There may be different types such as:
- Greenstick fracture. This one causes less damage and risk. It basically manifests itself as a crack into the whitish tissue. One side of the bone is broken and the other one bends under the pressure, but it doesn’t shed to separate pieces. The name refers to a young or “green” branch of a tree. You know what happens when you try to break one - a similar effect is observed with regard to bones. This type of fracture affects children only and in most cases, they are younger than 10.
- Growth plate fracture. The growth plates are tissue that sits at both ends of the long bones. It is what determines the overall shape and length of the bone. Once a child completes its development phase, the plates close and harden. Before this happens though, they are soft and fragile, therefore susceptible to breaks. This is why it is mostly kids who can suffer such a fracture. If the problem is not addressed quickly and properly, growth in the injured area can be affected.
- Torus (buckle) fracture. In this one, the bone does not break all the way through. Instead, it bends, or buckles, on one side while the other is compressed. Since no displacement occurs, the issue can go away quickly if the right treatment is assigned. This is the most common bone fracture in children.
- Galeazzi fracture. It affects the distal third and causes misalignment of the distal radioulnar joint. Right where the radius and ulna meet, there may be dislocation and a displacement alike. In other words, the problem usually affects both bones.
This is another typical child fracture. It usually affects the talus, fibula, and tibia which make up the ankle. The latter two names stand for the two long bones situated in the lower leg. As for the talus, it is located in the foot. Oftentimes, breaks in these parts of the body affect the growth plates that are already discussed above.
An ankle fracture occurs due to unexpected twists during vigorous play. Certain sports can put youngsters at risk for such injuries. Take for instance basketball. The players have a slew of responsibilities on the field, constantly running and jumping around to shoot, defend, and rebound. When landing on their feet, they may hurt themselves or hit another kid.
How do You Recognise the Symptoms?
If your little one has just fallen and is screaming in despair, here is what you should watch out for:
- Swelling around the troubled area
- Pain at the injured site
- Visible deformity in the limb
- Redness, bruising or warmth in the injured area
- Difficulty using the part of the body that has been injured
Are Bone Fractures Always Picked up on an X-ray?
No, there are injuries that will not be visible on an X-ray. This includes some hip and wrist fractures. When this test is not efficient in determining the root of the problem, the doctor might opt for a bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a computed tomography (CT). The latter is a technique for generating images of the body by sections in which a computer controls an X-ray machine, processes all the information, and delivers the final picture.
An MRI is a more powerful examination that involves the use of a computer combined with radio waves and magnets. The end goal is, again, to produce detailed images of the internal parts of your body. The difference here is that no radiation is employed to get the job done.
And finally, a bone scan is a special test that helps to diagnose different types of diseases affecting the bones. It resorts to nuclear imaging tests to locate inflammation, infection, fractures, and metastasis, among other things.
An orthopaedic will pick one of these tests to identify the type of injury your offspring has suffered. The decision is entirely up to them.
What Treatment is Available?
Fixing a fracture involves different steps. Your doctor will choose a specific course of action depending on a number of factors, such as:
- The extent of the fracture
- Your kid’s tolerance for certain therapies, procedures, and medications
- Your child’s overall medical history, health, and age
- Your preferences (if that’s up for discussion)
The idea is to not only restore the normal function of the troubled area but also prevent complications, speed up healing, and control the pain.
Here are the treatments that can work:
- Medication. While drugs cannot cure a displaced fracture, they can certainly help with the pain. Your heir will be prescribed some pills to control the aching.
- Cast or splint. The best way to make sure a broken bone doesn’t go out of alignment before it’s healed is to immobilise it. This can happen by putting something firm around the injured area, like a cast.
- Surgery. If the fracture is bad, an operation may be necessary to fix the broken pieces back into place. Internal or external fixation devices like metal rods will help keep the bone fragments still during the healing process.
- Traction. This is when assistive devices are used to stretch the tendons and muscles around an affected bone. It includes weights, strings, metal frames and pulleys. While it sounds like a modern method of torture, it can really promote proper alignment and healing.
There is a right way to address a crack or break in the bone. You just need to put your trust in an experienced doctor and never attempt to treat it on your own at home.