How Can I Tell If My Child has a Broken or Fractured Bone?
Many people don’t realize that when it comes to broken bones, the terms “fracture” and “break” mean the same thing. A fracture is a break in any bone in the body, and there are many different types of fractures.
Unless it’s a really obvious break, it’s often hard to diagnose a fractured bone without an X-ray and a medical exam. Children who exhibit any of the following symptoms may have a broken bone and should be seen right away. If your doctor recommends casting, be sure to ask for a waterproof cast so your child can shower, bathe and swim comfortably.
Seek immediate treatment for a child who:
- Has intense pain or pain that lasts longer than a few days after a fall or injury
- Has swelling, bruising or bleeding
- Has numbness and tingling
- Is not using or is favoring an arm or leg
- Is unable to walk or is walking crooked
- Is too young to talk and keeps pointing to or favoring a body part, or cries when it is moved or touched
Keep in mind that while children can break bones doing almost anything, there are some activities that are more high risk than others. These include:
- Playing on monkey bars (the No. 1 way kids break bones)
- Jumping on trampolines (No. 2)
- Contact sports like football and gymnastics/competitive cheer
- Riding ATVs/dirt bikes
- Jumping in bounce houses
- Riding down slides in a parent's lap
To reduce the risk of fractures and other injuries, make sure your children:
- Are well rested, eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated
- Wear protective gear appropriate for their sport or activity
- Warm up and gently stretch muscles and joints before activities
- Play in areas that are safe and free of holes, ruts and debris
If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.