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Salter-harris Fracture


A Salter-Harris fracture in children is when a bone breaks through a growth plate. Your child's bones grow from the growth plates near the bone ends. Salter-Harris fractures occur most often in the fingers or in the lower arm and leg.  Your child's Salter-Harris fracture may not be seen on x-ray at first. Some Salter-Harris fractures take up to 14 days before they can be seen on x-ray. Your child's injury may need to be put in a cast or splint if a Salter-Harris fracture is known or suspected. This will help prevent further injury to the growth plate and surrounding bone.



  • Pain medicine: Your child may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.
  • 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 healthcare provider or bone specialist within 1 week or as directed:

Your child may need to have his fracture checked each week as it heals. Ask how often your child needs to see his healthcare provider or bone specialist. Write down any questions you have so you remember to ask them in your follow-up visits.

How to care for your child:

  • Elevate: Keep the cast or splint above the level of your child's heart, as often as possible, for 1 to 3 days. Your child may lie back in a bed or chair and put pillows under an injured leg or foot. Use pillows to prop up an injured arm or hand. Your child should wiggle his healthy fingers and toes often.
  • Ice: Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Place the ice over the cast or splint for as long and as often as your child's healthcare provider says you should.

How to care for your child's cast or splint:

  • Keep the cast or splint dry. Use 2 layers of plastic or waterproof shields to keep the splint or cast dry when your child bathes.
  • Keep powder, dirt, and sand out of the cast or splint.
  • If your child has a cast on his leg, ask when it is safe for him to walk on it.
  • Do not pull out the padding or break off hard edges of the cast.
  • Do not let your child use coat hangers or other sharp objects to scratch the skin under the cast.

How to prevent sports injuries:

  • Rest: Rest periods are needed during sports training. If your child is injured, he may need to avoid contact sports for 4 to 6 months to prevent another injury.
  • Regular checkups: Your child should see a healthcare provider as suggested. Ask your child to tell you when he is hurt. Regular checkups may catch unknown injuries before they get worse.
  • Exercise changes: Your child should not do the same exercises or drills every day.
  • Safe play: Make sure your child competes with other children of the same size, fitness level, and skill.

Contact your child's healthcare provider or bone specialist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You see swelling below the splint or cast.
  • Your child's cast is cracked or has soft spots.
  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child's pain gets worse, even with medicine.
  • Your child says his cast or splint feels too tight.
  • The skin under your child's cast or splint is tingling or numb.
  • Your child can no longer move his fingers or toes.

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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.