Summer has arrived and children are enjoying the nicer weather by playing or exercising outside. With summer fun, unfortunately, can also come injuries. Broken bones are a common childhood injury that can result from outdoor activities, including contact sports.
Q. What is a bone fracture?
A. A bone fracture is a broken bone. There is a wide range of what constitutes a fracture, so it can be anything from a small crack in the bone to a completely displaced fracture, meaning both ends of the bone are completely separated.
Q. What are the most common childhood fractures you see?
A. I see a lot of fractures around the elbow and forearm. These can occur in all different age groups, from a young child who falls from the climbing frames to an adolescent who falls off his skateboard. Treatment for these injuries can range from wearing a cast for several weeks to surgery.
Q. What are the symptoms of a fracture?
A. One of the biggest symptoms is pain. If a child complains of pain in one of their limbs after some injury, and they don’t want to use that limb much, that could be a sign of a fracture. Swelling, redness, or an obvious deformity can also be a sign of a fracture.
Q. When should a parent seek care for their child if they suspect a breakup?
A. If the child has had an injury and complains of persistent pain, they should definitely be brought in and evaluated. A good reason to see a pediatric orthopedic surgeon is that a fracture can involve the so-called growth plate, which can have consequences we wouldn’t see in an adult fracture. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon has specialized training to treat these fractures and monitor for any long-term consequences.
Q. What are some childhood activities that are the most common causes of fractures?
A. The biggest culprits are trampolines, climbing frames and sports, especially contact sports. The best thing parents can do when their children are playing on a trampoline or climbing frame, or playing sports, is to supervise in case of an accident or injury.
Q. Do childhood fractures usually heal well?
A. Yes, fractures in pediatric patients usually heal very well because they are still growing. They tend to heal quickly, and children can often resume activities more quickly than an adult who has suffered a similar fracture.
Q. If a child breaks a bone, is it possible that they will have problems with that bone later on?
A. Most fractures can be corrected and will not cause long-term problems for the child. However, there are some issues, such as growth plate fractures, that can lead to problems later on. Proper treatment is necessary to ensure that children do not develop problems as they grow older.
David Lyons, DO, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at MidMichigan Health.