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

Common Ways Kids Break Bones

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:

How to Prevent Broken Bones

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

Learn more about preventing and treating pediatric orthopedic injuries.

When Children Have an Emergency, Look for a Pediatric ER

Bikes, Trikes, Scooters and Skates: How to Stay Out of the ER

How to Prevent and Treat Kids’ Sports Injuries

How to Keep Cheerleaders Safe from Falls and Injuries

How to Stay Safe on a Personal Recreational Vehicle

How to Prevent Spring Injuries from Sidelining Your Family

How to Prevent Backpacks from Injuring Little Backs

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.