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ORIF of an Arm Fracture in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of an arm fracture is surgery to fix a broken arm bone. This may include the humerus (upper arm bone), radius, or ulna (lower arm bones). Medical plates, screws, pins, or wires will be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.
- Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell healthcare providers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
- 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.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Your child will need to return to have his wound checked and stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Apply ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your child's arm, cast, or splint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
- Limit activity: Your child will not be able to lift or move heavy objects after surgery. Ask your child's healthcare provider about the best activities for your child.
- Ask when your child can bathe: When your child is allowed to bathe, cover his cast with 2 plastic bags. Tape the bags to his skin to keep the water out. Keep the cast out of the water so it does not get wet. If your child does not have a cast, carefully wash his wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change his bandages when they get wet or dirty.
Cast or splint care:
- Check the skin around your child's cast or splint every day. Apply lotion on any red or sore areas.
- Do not let your child push down or lean on any part of the cast or splint, because it may break.
- Do not let your child scratch the skin under the cast with any sharp or pointed object.
- If your child's splint is too tight, gently loosen it so that his fingers are comfortable.
Your child may need to see a physical therapist to teach him special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your child's risk for loss of function.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child's cast gets wet.
- Your child's cast or splint begin to smell.
- Your child's wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- Your child's pain does not get better, even after he takes pain medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Blood soaks through your child's bandage.
- Your child tells you that his cast feels too tight.
- Your child's cast or splint breaks or gets damaged.
- Your child's stitches or staples come apart.
- Your child has more swelling in his fingers.
- Your child's fingers look pale or blue, feel numb, or tingle.
- Your child has chest pain, a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing, or has fainted.
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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.
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