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Hand Fracture in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is a hand fracture?

A hand fracture is a break in a bone in your child's hand.

What are the signs and symptoms of a hand fracture?

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Problems moving the hand
  • Abnormal bump, or abnormal shape of your child's hand
  • Knuckle bone looks sunken in

How is a hand fracture diagnosed and treated?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine his or her hand and wrist, and ask about the injury. An x-ray may be used to find a fracture or other problem. Treatment may include any of the following:

  • A cast or splint on your child's hand, wrist, and lower arm will prevent movement while the hand heals.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. 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 or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. 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. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not give your child other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to a healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Closed reduction is used to put the bone back into the correct position without surgery.
  • Open reduction surgery may be needed to put the bone back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates, or screws may be used to keep the broken pieces lined up correctly.

How can I help manage my child's symptoms?

  • Have your child wear his or her splint as directed. Do not remove the splint until you follow up with your child's healthcare provider or hand specialist.
  • Apply ice on your child's hand 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 before you apply it to your child's skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your child's hand above the level of his or her heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your child's hand on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
    Elevate Arm

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child has severe pain that does not get better, even with pain medicine.
  • Your child says his or her splint or cast feels too tight.
  • Your child's cast or splint gets wet, damaged, or comes off.
  • Your child's hand or forearm is cold, numb, or pale.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child has new sores around his or her cast or splint.
  • You notice a bad smell coming from under your child's cast.
  • 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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.