Skip to main content

Wrist Fracture in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a wrist fracture?

A wrist fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in your child's wrist.

Child Arm Bones

What are the signs and symptoms of a wrist fracture?

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising of the wrist
  • Wrist pain that is worse when your child holds something or puts pressure on the wrist
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the hand or wrist
  • Trouble moving the wrist, hand, or fingers
  • A change in the shape of the wrist

How is a wrist fracture diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine him or her. Your child may need an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help his or her wrist bones show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.

How is a wrist fracture treated?

Treatment will depend on which wrist bone was broken and the kind of fracture your child has. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to decrease pain and swelling. Your child may need antibiotic medicine or a tetanus shot if there is a break in his or her skin.
  • A cast, splint, or brace may be placed on your child's wrist to decrease movement. These devices will help hold the bones in place while they heal.
  • Traction may be needed if your child's bones broke into 2 pieces. Traction pulls on the bones to pull them back into place. A pin may be put in your child's bone or cast and hooked to ropes and a pulley. Weight is hung on the rope to help pull on the bones so they will heal correctly.
  • A closed reduction is a procedure to put your child's bones into the correct position without surgery.
  • Surgery may be needed to put your child's bones back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates or screws may be used to help hold the bones in place.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Have your child rest as much as possible. Do not let your child play contact sports until the healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Apply ice on your child's wrist 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 place it on your child's skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your child's wrist above the level of his or her heart as often as possible. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your child's wrist on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
    Elevate Arm
  • Take your child to physical therapy as directed. Your child may need physical therapy after his or her wrist has healed and the cast is removed. 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 or does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child's cast or splint breaks, gets wet, or is damaged.
  • Your child tells you that his or her hand or fingers feel numb or cold.
  • Your child's hand or fingers turn white or blue.
  • Your child says that his or her splint or cast feels too tight.
  • Your child's pain or swelling gets worse after the cast or splint is put on.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child has a fever.
  • There is a foul smell or blood coming from under the 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.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

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