One of the most terrifying things as a parent is being in a position where you are unable to help your child. When your child breaks a bone, it is easy to feel helpless and begin panicking. Just remember, childhood bone fractures are more common than you may be thinking. Also, the younger your child is, the higher the healing capacity is.
According to Doctor B. Brewer on behalf of Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL, nearly half of all childhood fractures are in the upper extremities. There are a few ways to tell if there was an actual break. The most obvious is if you or your child heard a snap or grinding sound during the occurrence of the injury. Another way to tell is if there is swelling, trouble moving the limb and tenderness. Some injuries can be extremely obvious such as deformity or the bone poking through the skin.
What to Do
If you believe your child has suffered a bone break, try to prevent the limb from bending or moving. Excessive movement can worsen the damage and cause a lot more pain. More than likely, there will be a lot of swelling. Applying an ice pack to the area will help reduce the swelling until you're able to see a doctor. The doctor will most likely provide a splint immediately and take some X-ray pictures using enterprise imaging. This will allow the doctor to access a clear image of the fracture to treat your child accordingly.
If the doctor sees a break, a cast will be applied to the affected area. Sometimes, the doctor may need to reset the bone. This involves re-breaking the bone, realigning it properly then applying the cast. However, this is only necessary if the bone has been fractured too long without the proper healthcare. Another worst case scenario is that surgery may be required. Although this may sound extreme, the possible damage caused by treatment without surgery could very well be dramatically worse. Just keep in mind that the doctors have your child's well-being in mind at all times. They are only taking precautionary measures to ensure that your child's bone heals correctly and to prevent the possibility of a re-break in their adulthood. Children have open growth plates at the end of their long bones so proper treatment is necessary to prevent limb length discrepancies or angular deformities.
Types of Fractures
Now let's talk about the different kinds of fractures or breaks. A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. An open fracture is when the bone is visible through a wound in the skin. This is the most obvious break. A closed fracture is when the bone is broken but skin is still intact. This one could be difficult to diagnose without an X-ray or an MRI being done. Pain medicine will be administered to your child (at your discretion, of course) to comfort them during the treatment. Remaining as calm as you can during the procedure is vital as your child will panic if you do.
Once your child had a cast applied and is sent home, there are a few other things to keep in mind during the next few months or so. For one, itching and irritation may occur under the cast where your child cannot reach to scratch. One way to soothe the irritation is to turn a hairdryer on a cool setting and aim it under the cast. Do not allow your child to stick objects, such as a clothes hanger, inside the cast to scratch the skin. This can lead to an infection. Another concern could be the smell of the cast. When sweat builds up, it could start to smell bad. Applying some baking soda under the cast can help to dry up some of the moisture.