Fractured Bones: Getting the Right Diagnosis

Falling off the monkey bars. A crash during a soccer game. Every injury has a story—and maybe a few tears.

 Many injuries are minor, and can be treated with ice, rest, and maybe an extra scoop of ice cream. But if the injury is a fracture, your child will need more than cookies-and-ice cream therapy.

 Here are the first steps to take after your child has been injured, and what to expect when they’re receiving treatment at OIC. 


1. Get Help Right Away

The sooner they get treatment for the fracture, the more likely your child is to fully recover. That means they’ll be more likely to use that arm or leg the way they did before the injury.  

If your child has any of the following symptoms, get them to urgent care right away if the symptoms occur during urgent care hours. If not, go to the emergency room. 

  • Pain
  • Numbness or swelling
  • Inability to put any weight on the area, or move it
  • A joint that seems unstable
  • Visible changes (e.g., swelling and tenderness, a limb that looks out of place, skin that is pierced open)

These could all mean a fracture. If you have a hunch that your child has a fracture in their arm or leg, don’t assume it’ll get better with time or that you can treat it at home. Get medical care immediately.


2. Understand the Goals of Treatment

Your child’s treatment should aim for three main goals: 

  • Reduce pain
  • Line up the broken bone and set it correctly
  • Help your child regain all range of motion in the injured area 

Without the right treatment, your child could permanently lose some range of motion. They could also develop arthritis, chronic pain, or deformity. 


3. Come to OIC’s Urgent Care—First 

If your child is not having a medical emergency and you suspect they have a fracture, take them to OIC’s Urgent Care Center. Why? Emergency rooms, primary care physicians, and even pediatricians aren’t always well-prepared to diagnose and treat pediatric orthopaedic injuries.

OIC has specialists dedicated to pediatric orthopaedics. These experts can follow your child throughout the entire course of treatment—from diagnosis to their return to sports, school, and everything else.

What Is a Medical Emergency?

Call 911 or take your child to the emergency room after an arm or leg injury if they are experiencing: 

  • Loss of consciousness, sleepiness, or confusion
  • A severe headache
  • Uncontrollable blood loss
  • Breathing problems or choking
  • Throwing up blood
  • Injury to the head, neck, or spine
  • Sudden inability to move, speak, or see
  • Severe burn
  • A rapid heartbeat that remains constant
  • A large laceration (cut) 


4. Be as Prepared as Possible

Please bring the following items with you to OIC, if you can, so that your child’s treatment can go as quickly and smoothly as possible: 

  • Your child’s insurance card
  • Your picture ID (if you are a legal guardian, bring court documents, too)
  • List of their current medications
  • Something to keep your child occupied and comforted, like a book or small toy 

If you have already been to the emergency room or another doctor, bring any previous discharge papers, notes, and X-rays on a CD.

Try not to give your child anything to eat unless told otherwise by the care team. If your child needs to receive medication, food might cause nausea.


5. Know What to Expect at OIC

When you’re coming to OIC, here are the steps we’ll take to get your child on the road to recovery. 

  • Intake: You will fill out some forms with basic information (e.g., child’s age, reason for visit). If they have insurance, you will also show their insurance card.
  • Vitals: A team member will take your child’s vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure.   
  • X-rays: An X-ray technician will take images of your child’s bone.
  • Examination: The care provider will talk to you and your child. They will want to know more about the injury, such as how it occurred, and what type of pain it’s causing. They might also touch or press on the injured area to get a better idea of the injury.
  • Diagnosis: After performing the physical exam and looking at the X-rays, the care provider will determine the exact type of injury.
  • Treatment: The care provider might recommend a brace, splint, or cast. They will also prescribe the next steps (e.g., pain medication, physical therapy), and tell you when to schedule a follow-up appointment.