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Fractures

There are hundreds of bones in the human body. These bones are strong and rigid, but they can fracture if too much pressure is put on them.

Fractures, or broken bones, are very common in children—in fact, between 1.5 million and 2.2 million children are treated for fractures every year.

Adults can also break bones, but children have a leg up when it comes to recovery. A child’s bones are softer and more flexible, and they absorb shock better. His bone fracture probably won’t be quite as severe as the same fracture in an adult.

Types

Any bone in the body can break. Two common locations in children are the forearm and elbow, with the forearm making up about 40% of childhood fractures and the elbow about 10%.

There are several common types of bone fractures:

  • Stable fracture: This type is one of the least severe fractures. The broken ends of the bone are still lined up, and are barely even out of place.
  • Open, compound fracture: An open fracture occurs when the skin is pierced, either by the bone itself or by the blow that causes the fracture. Sometimes, the bone is visible in the wound.
  • Transverse fracture: The fracture line is horizontal.
  • Oblique fracture: The fracture has an angled pattern.
  • Comminuted fracture: The bone doesn’t have just one break—it’s shattered into three or more pieces.   
  • Stress fracture: There is a small, hairline crack in the bone.

Symptoms

When a child has a fracture, he will usually have pain and be unable to move the limb with the broken bone. There may also be tenderness, bruising, or swelling around the injury. In some cases, there might be a visible deformity, where the limb looks out of place.

Causes

Broken bones are usually due to one of three causes:

  • Trauma: A trauma is an event that puts a direct blow to the body. Trauma injuries often come from falling, car accidents, sports injuries, or any other way that a child manages to get hurt.
  • Overuse: Overuse injuries occur after repetitive motion—like running, pitching a baseball, or swinging a golf club—tires the muscles and puts too much force on the bone. These injuries cause stress fractures, often in the foot, ankle, or hip.
  • Osteoporosis: This is a disorder where the bones weaken and are more likely to fracture. Osteoporosis can develop at any age, but it’s not quite so common in children—it’s usually found in seniors, especially women.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a fracture if a fairly straightforward process. A physician will give the child a careful physical exam of the area. Afterward, he will most likely order imaging tests, like X-rays, to get a clear image of the fracture. He will look for the type, severity, and exact location of the fracture.

Prevention

Accidents happen, meaning that fractures may be just a part of life.

However, basic safety measures can reduce the risk of a child breaking a bone. Parents can help their child avoid a fracture in several ways, including:

  • Making sure he’s wearing protective gear while playing sports (e.g., knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet)
  • Creating a safe home environment for young children (e.g., gates at stairways, closed windows, non-skid mats in bathtubs)
  • Not allowing risky behavior, like standing on chairs or sliding down bannisters
  • Supervising a child carefully and constantly
  • Always using proper safety restraints for children in vehicles

The OIC Fractures Team

At OIC we draw from a wide range of experts and expertise in order to help your child with his or her arthrogryposis. If you come to OIC for help, your team could include:

The Pediatric Orthopaedist specializes in the musculoskeletal system of children. They provide surgical interventions when necessary such as tendon lengthening.

The Pediatrician reviews medical issues and coordinates the general healthcare of the patient, in addition to working with the orthopaedic surgeon for pre-operative assessments if surgery is indicated and overseeing medical issues for hospitalized patients.

The Nurse Coordinator assists in making sure all medical orders are carried out, and provides case management and nursing assessment for the patient. 

The Orthotist works with the team to prevent unequal or unbalanced muscle groups which can lead to deformities as the child grows.

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