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Triage & Urgent Care

Orthopaedic Urgent Care For Kids: 7 Common Injuries We Treat At OIC

Chances are, when you hear the words “urgent care for kids,” broken bones are one of the first things that come to mind. But we see that and then some. There are actually many different types of injuries that can require orthopaedic urgent care.

If your child has one of these 7 injuries, head straight to OIC’s Urgent Care Center.


 

1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

Description:

Ligaments connect bones to one another. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the shinbone (tibia) and the thighbone (femur). It also provides stability within the knee.

ACL injuries can range from mild stretching in the ligament to complete tears.

Causes include:

  • Abruptly changing direction or stopping
  • Suddenly slowing down from a run
  • Incorrectly landing after a jump
  • Forcefully colliding with another person or object

Symptoms include:

  • The knee “giving out” or suddenly not working normally—possibly with a popping noise
  • Pain, tenderness, and discomfort—especially when walking
  • Swelling—especially within the first 24 hours after injury
  • Loss of range of motion in the knee

Treatment and recovery:

For active children or young athletes, ACL tears usually require surgery to rebuild the ligament. After surgery, your child will need physical therapy to rebuild strength and range of motion. Young athletes may need 6 months or more before returning to their sport.

However, in some cases, children can skip the surgery. Bracing and crutches, followed by physical therapy, is an option for less severe ACL injuries.


 

2. Dislocations

Description:

Dislocations happen when two bones become separated at a joint, like the shoulder or elbow.

Causes include:

  • Colliding with another person or object
  • Falling
  • Receiving a hit or blow from another person or object

Symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling at or beyond the injured joint
  • Severe pain—particularly when your child puts weight on the joint
  • Limited range of motion
  • Swelling or bruising

Treatment and recovery:

A healthcare provider will have to put the dislocated bones back in place. Your child might be put under anesthesia for this procedure, or the injured area might be numbed.

If tissue surrounding the joint has been injured, recovery can take up to 12 weeks. In some cases, surgery is also needed to repair torn tissue.


 

3. Fractures

Description:

Fractures are broken bones. Fractures can be complete or partial, and can occur across a bone, down the length of it, or in multiple places.

Causes include:

  • Falls
  • Tackles
  • Collisions with another person or object
  • Overuse or repetitive motions

Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain
  • Inability to move the injured body part
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising

Treatment and recovery:

No matter which bone is fractured, treatment sometimes involves putting the bone back into place and then immobilizing it while it heals—usually by covering it in a cast.

Sometimes this means your child will need surgery. Other times, healthcare providers can reposition the bone and apply a cast or splint without surgery.

Healing can take several weeks or months, depending on which bone is injured and how severe the fracture is.


 

4. Growth Plate Injuries

Description:

Growth plates are areas of cartilage at the ends of long bones. This cartilage will solidify when your child stops growing—at around 16 years for boys and 14 years for girls. Because this cartilage is not as hard as bone, it is more vulnerable to fractures.

And because it is constantly growing, it heals faster. But getting the right treatment quickly very important to ensure that the bone heals correctly.

Causes include:

  • Falls
  • Collisions
  • Overuse or repetitive motions

Symptoms include:

  • Crooked limb
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Bruising

Treatment and recovery:

Growth plate injuries can usually be treated like other fractures—by putting the bone back in place (with or without surgery) and then immobilizing it in a cast. Rest is an important part of recovery, too.  


 

5. Meniscus Tears

Description:

Menisci are small pieces of cartilage wedged in the knee between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). Their job is to cushion the joint and provide stability. Like ACL injuries, meniscal tears can be full or partial.

Causes include:

  • Getting into or out of a squatting position
  • Twisting the knee
  • Tackling or colliding with another person or object

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Feeling the knee lock up
  • Feeling the knee give out
  • Losing range of motion in the knee

Treatment and recovery:

It all depends on your child’s injury. Some meniscus tears can be treated without surgery, using RICE—rest, ice, compression, elevation—and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Other tears need surgery. Healing from surgery—called a menisectomy—can take three to four weeks. And rehabilitation and physical therapy can take about three months.


 

6. Sprains

Description:

Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn. They are most common in ankles, knees, and wrists.

Causes include:

  • Ankle: turning the foot inward
  • Knee: suddenly twisting the knee
  • Wrist: falling onto an outstretched hand

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling and inflammation

Treatment and recovery:

Milder sprains can often be treated with RICE—rest, ice, compression, elevation—and physical therapy. If your child’s sprain is more moderate, he might just need a brace. But severe sprains sometimes need surgery to fix torn ligaments.


 

7. Strains

Description:

Unlike sprains—which occur in ligaments—strains occur in muscles or tendons. They are common in the feet, legs, and backs. Like sprains, these injuries can be partial or complete tears.

Causes include:

  • Contact sports—like soccer, football, or wrestling
  • Activities that require fast starts—like track and field
  • Sports that involve lots of gripping—like gymnastics, rowing, or golf  

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swelling and inflammation

Treatment and recovery:

Also as with sprains, healthcare providers usually can treat strains with RICE. They also might give your child special exercises to help reduce pain and restore mobility in the injured area. However, surgery is sometimes needed for more serious injuries or tears.