Childhood Fractures: What Parents Should Know 

Trampoline tumbles. Monkey-bar maneuvers. Flying leaps off the furniture. There are a myriad of reasons children can fracture a bone. If your child plays sports, especially contact sports like football, the risk only increases. 

“Fracture” is another way of saying “broken bone.” But for growing children, their small bones can fracture in several ways and damage their growth plates. Growth plates are areas of tissue found at the ends of long bones that close up after a child has finished growing.  

A fracture that damages a growth plate and doesn’t heal properly can cause uneven growth in the injured limb, compared to the uninjured limb. That’s why it’s critical to seek medical experts who specialize in addressing broken bones for children.  

When your child comes to OIC, their care provider will consider the cause, symptoms, and type of fracture they have in order to design the best treatment plan.


What Causes Fractures?

Fractures in children tend to be the result of one of several common causes, such as: 

  • Trauma: A trauma fracture comes from falls, accidents, sports or recreational injuries. A contact injury like a football tackle can cause a fracture.
  • Overuse: This type of fracture is also called a stress fracture. It comes from repetitive motions. For example, runners can suffer stress fractures to the bones in their feet.


What Are Some Common Signs of Fractures?

Besides pain at the injury site, signs that your child might have a fracture include: 

  • An inability to move the injured arm, leg, or joint
  • The injured area is swollen and tender or painful to touch
  • The injured area is bruised or looks deformed
  • It hurts to walk or put weight on the affected area


What Are the Different Types of Fractures?

Some of the more common types of fractures are: 

  • Stable or Nondisplaced Fracture: The ends of the broken bone are still aligned and not too far out of place.
  • Open Fracture: The skin is pierced open, and the bone might be visible.
  • Displaced Fracture: The bones are out of place and may need to be put back in place.
  • Comminuted Fracture: The bone has split into several pieces or has shattered.


8 Things to Know About Your Child’s Fracture

Fractures aren’t just painful—they can be discouraging. Having to sitting out of sports or other fun activities can leave kids feeling isolated and sad. As the parent, it can hurt you just watching them. 

Here are 8 things to know about fractures that can give you and your child encouragement. 

1. Your Child Is In Good Company 

Fractures are common in childhood. Every year, between 1.5 million and 2.2 million children are treated for broken bones. With correct treatment, most kids don’t require surgery and can heal quickly. 

2. The Making of a Break 

Most pediatric fractures are caused by:

  • Trauma (e.g., falls, accidents, sports)
  • Overuse (repetitive motions that keep putting stress on a bone, like running)
  • Medical conditions:  genetic issues, bone deposition disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders

3. Let’s Give the Kid a Hand … or Maybe an Arm

Most fractures in kids are in the wrist, finger, and forearm. That’s because when kids fall, they tend to throw their hands out to break the fall. Their arms seem to take the brunt of it: Forearm fractures account for 17.8% of fractures in kids under 19 years old.

4. But, on the Bright Side 

  • Childhood fractures don’t usually require surgery.
  • Pain should lessen every day.
  • Childhood fractures can heal quickly.
  • Most fractures can be treated with outpatient care. Only about 5% of kids with fractures need to be hospitalized.

5. As a Kid, Your Child Has an Advantage 

Kids’ bones are softer and more flexible than adults,’ meaning they absorb shock better. So a child might not experience a break as severe as an adult’s would be. 

6. Tell Your Child: If You’ve Got a Break, Take a Break 

Your child needs to rest their injury. Even after they’re out of their cast, they might need to rest frequently and reduce their movement. It’s the only way to heal completely. But with enough rest, the bone will have time to get back into tip-top shape.

7. Here’s What Else Your Child Can Do 

Make sure they:  

  • Follow the care provider’s directions closely.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help their body stay hydrated and heal.
  • Get a balanced diet, including calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds or broccoli.
  • Go to physical therapy if their care provider recommends it. Kids can lose muscle strength during recovery, and therapy can help them regain normal strength, flexibility, and joint motion. 

8. Patience, Persistence, and a Positive Attitude: The Keys to Success

 Your child might be bummed if they have to miss out on sports or playtime because of a fracture. Keep their spirits up—a positive attitude may speed up the healing process.  


The OIC Advantage

As a parent, you can’t undo that moment before the fall, but you can make sure your child receives the right care to relieve the pain, fix the bone, and make sure they’ll heal properly.

At OIC, our goal is to get your child back to play, sports, and school by:

  • Relieving pain
  • Restoring bone alignment
  • Recovering range of motion
  • Ensuring proper growth

We’re here to help kids with all kinds of fractures, from diagnosis to treatment—and all the way through recovery.