Wrist Fracture In Children

What is a wrist fracture?

A wrist fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in your child's wrist.

What causes a wrist fracture?

A wrist fracture is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand. Your child's wrist may also be broken while he plays sports. Wrist bones may also be broken when hit by a hard object.

What are the signs and symptoms of a wrist fracture?

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising of the injured wrist

  • Wrist pain that is worse when he holds or squeezes something

  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in his injured hand or wrist

  • Trouble moving his wrist, hand, or fingers

  • Change in the shape of your child's wrist

How is a wrist fracture diagnosed?

  • X-rays: Your child may need x-rays of his wrist, hand, and forearm to check for broken bones or other problems. X-rays of both your child's injured and uninjured wrists may be taken.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's forearm, wrist, and hand. The pictures may show if he has broken a bone. He may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's forearm, wrist, and hand. An MRI may show if he has broken a bone. Your child may be given a dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.

How is a wrist fracture treated?

Treatment will depend on which wrist bone was broken and the kind of fracture your child has. Your child may need the following:

  • Cast or splint: A cast or splint will keep your child's wrist from moving to allow it to heal. They may be used to decrease pain and prevent further damage to the broken bones.

  • Medicine: Caregivers may give your child medicine to help ease his pain. Your child may need antibiotic medicine or a tetanus shot if there is a break in his skin.

  • Surgery: A wrist fracture that is severe or does not heal with other treatments may need surgery. If a bone has moved out of place, your child may need surgery to put it back in its normal position. Caregivers may also do surgery to place a bone graft into spaces between or around the fracture.

What are the risks of a wrist fracture?

Surgery or an open wound may cause your child to bleed or get an infection. If not treated, the bones may not heal properly. The injured wrist may become stiff or deformed. Your child may have problems with hand movement or grip strength. It may also cause decreased blood supply to the wrist and hand.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your child's fractured wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

  • Physical therapy: Your child may need physical therapy after his wrist has healed and the cast is removed. A physical therapist can teach him exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • There is a foul smell coming from under the cast.

  • Your child has more pain or swelling than he did before the cast or splint was put on.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek immediate care or call 911 if:

  • Your child has increased pain that does not go away.

  • Your child's cast breaks or is damaged.

  • Your child's arm or hand feels numb.

  • Your child's skin or fingernails become swollen, cold, or turn white or blue.

  • Your child's splint or cast is too tight.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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