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Leg Fracture in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A leg fracture is a break in any of the 3 long bones of your child's leg. The femur is the largest bone and goes from your child's hip to his knee. The fibula and tibia are the 2 bones in your child's lower leg that go from the knee to the ankle. Your child may have a Salter-Harris fracture, which is when a bone breaks through a growth plate. Growth plates are found at the ends of your child's long bones, and help to regulate bone growth.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child has increased pain in his injured leg that does not go away, even after taking medicine.
- Your child's cast gets wet or damaged.
- Your child's leg or toes are numb.
- Your child's skin or toenails below the injured leg become swollen, cold, white, or blue.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child's cast or brace is too tight.
- There are new blood stains or a bad smell coming from under the cast.
- Your child has new or worsening trouble moving his or her leg.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to safely give this medicine to your child.
- 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. 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 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.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
Care for your child at home:
- Have your child rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep.
- Apply ice on your child's leg 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 leg above the level of his or her heart as often as possible. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your child's leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Have your child use crutches as directed. Crutches will help your child walk and take some weight off the injured leg while it heals.
Cast or brace care:
Your child may need a cast or brace. These devices help decrease pain and keep his leg bones from moving while they heal.
- Your child may take a bath as directed. Do not let your child's cast or brace get wet. Before bathing, cover the cast or brace with 2 plastic trash bags. Tape the bags to your child's skin above the cast to seal out the water. Have your child keep his leg out of the water in case the bag breaks. If a plaster cast gets wet and soft, call your child's healthcare provider.
- Check the skin around the cast or brace every day. You may put lotion on any red or sore areas.
- If your child has a hip spica cast, you will be taught to help your child use the bathroom and take a bath. You will learn how to clean the cast and keep it dry. You will also learn how to move and dress your child.
- Do not let your child push down or lean on the cast or brace because it may break.
- Do not let your child scratch the skin under the cast by putting a sharp or pointed object inside the cast.
Your child may need physical therapy. A physical therapist will help him with exercises to make his bones and muscles stronger.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or bone specialist as directed:
Your child may need to return to have his or her cast removed. He or she may also need an x-ray to check how well the bone has healed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.