A broken bone, or fracture, is a kid’s rite of passage. They’re active, they play hard and fall hard too. Thankfully, children’s bones heal faster than adults, so they can get back to running, jumping, and sports relatively quickly after suffering a broken bone.
How are kid’s bones different than adults?
Young bones are more flexible and can withstand injury better than adult bones because of a thick layer of connective tissue (periosteum) that surrounds and protects the bone. Children also have soft areas of cartilage at the ends of their bones, called growth plates. Growth plates are susceptible to injury because they are the last part of the bone to harden, not turning into solid bone until a child is fully grown. Damage to the growth plate can cause the bone to heal more slowly or cause the limb to grow at the wrong angle.
What are the different types of fractures?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “greenstick” and “buckle” fractures are the most common types of broken bones in children. Greenstick fractures refer to when the bone bends like green wood and only breaks on one side. Buckle fractures occur when the bone is buckled, twisted and weakened, but not completely broken. When the bone breaks all the way through, these are called “complete” fractures.
Other terms you might hear if your child suffers a broken bone is “non-displaced” and “displaced”. A non-displaced fracture is when the broken ends of the bone are aligned in proper position. A displaced fracture is when the broken ends of the bone are out of alignment.
Common Pediatric Fractures
Some of the most common pediatric fractures we treat at Texas Orthopedics include:
- Wrist fracture
- Broken arm
- Broken leg
- Broken collarbone
- Elbow fracture
- Ankle fracture
- Foot or toe fracture
Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Bone
It may be hard to tell if your child has a broken bone. Swelling, pain, tenderness and difficulty using or moving the injured area are the most common symptoms. There may also be bruising, redness, and in some cases, deformity.
How Are Broken Bones Treated?
Because children’s bones heal quickly and can remodel as they grow, a cast, brace or an immobilizing splint is often the first line of treatment for a non-displaced fracture. A displaced fracture may require an orthopedic surgeon to put the bones back into proper alignment, called reduction. And in some severe cases, surgery may be required.
Surgical options for treating a broken bone can include Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF) or Open Reduction and External Fixation (OREF). Both procedures use surgical hardware to stabilize the fracture. ORIF refers to the surgical hardware (pins, screws and plates) beneath the skin and OREF refers to the surgical hardware outside of the skin. The location and type of fracture will determine the type of procedure.
Fracture Care at Texas Orthopedics
At Texas Orthopedics, we treat children, adolescents and young adults with fractures of all complexities. We are fortunate to have board certified orthopedic trauma surgeons to treat the most complex cases and a board certified pediatric orthopedic surgeon to care for our youngest fracture patients. Each of our Austin area locations has x-ray imaging on-site to provide an accurate diagnosis of a broken bone. If you believe your child might have a broken bone, schedule an appointment online or call (512) 439-1001 today.