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Arm Fracture In Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is an arm fracture?

An arm fracture is a crack or break in one or more of the bones in your child's arm. An arm fracture may be caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. It may also be caused by trauma from a car accident or a sports injury.

What are the different types of arm fractures?

  • Nondisplaced means the bone cracked or broke but stayed in place.
  • Displaced means the 2 ends of the broken bone separated.
  • Comminuted means the bone cracked or broke into several pieces.
  • Open means the broken bone went through your child's skin.
  • Greenstick fracture means the bone cracks but does not break all the way through.
  • Buckle (torus) fracture means one side of the bone buckles when pressure is applied to the other end of the bone.

What are the signs and symptoms of an arm fracture?

  • Arm and shoulder pain
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Abnormal arm position or shape
  • Severe pain when your child moves his arm
  • Weakness or numbness in your child's arm, hand, or fingers

How is an arm fracture diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about his injury and examine him. An x-ray may show the type of fracture your child has. Your child may need more than 1 x-ray, or another x-ray after several days have passed.

How is an arm fracture treated?

Treatment will depend on what kind of fracture your child has, and how bad it is. He may need any of the following:

  • A support device , such as a brace, cast, or splint may be needed to hold the broken bones in place. It will decrease his arm movement and allow it to heal. Do not remove your child's device.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much your child should take and how often he should take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to give this medicine safely.
  • Closed reduction may be done to put your child's bones back into the correct position without surgery.
  • Open reduction surgery may be needed to put your child's bones back into the correct position. An incision is made and the bones are put back in the correct position. This may include the use of special wires, pins, plates or screws.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Apply ice on your child's arm for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your child's arm above the level of his heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop his arm on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Have your child rest his arm. Your child should rest his arm as much as possible. Do not let your child put pressure on his arm or use his arm to lift anything. Ask his healthcare provider when he can return to sports and other activities.
  • Take your child to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches your child exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child's pain gets worse, even after he rests and takes medicine.
  • Your child's arm, hand, or fingers feel numb.
  • Your child's skin over the fracture is swollen, cold, or pale.
  • Your child's arm is swollen, red, and feels warm.
  • Your child cannot move his arm, hand, or fingers.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's brace or splint becomes wet, damaged, or comes off.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

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.

© 2016 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.

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.

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