By Verena Schreiber, MD
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon
Whether your child spends a lot of free time on a sports team, at a dance class or simply playing outdoors, injuries are common in active children. Therefore, when your child falls, it is good for parents to know how to care for injuries, particularly if they suspect there is a fracture.
“Unfortunately, many kids will suffer a fracture at some point or another. While it can be a scary experience for parents, it’s important to know what to expect in order to get the best care for your child,” said Dr. Verena Schreiber, Orthopedic Surgeon at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
Falls and injuries are extremely common, but not every injury will result in a broken bone.
Signs of a Fracture
- You or your child hears a cracking or grinding noise when the injury occurs
- Signs of swelling and/or bruising
- Change of shape of the affected area (i.e. hand or foot)
- Persistent pain, difficulty moving the affected limb.
What to do if Your Child has a Fracture
First and foremost, call 911 immediately if you think your child may have a serious injury to the head, back or neck or if any broke bone is coming out of the skin. If this is the case, Dr. Schreiber suggests that pressure is applied to the injury with a clean, thick cloth. Keep your child still until help arrives.
“If you suspect your child has a fracture, you should seek medical care at an appropriate urgent care center or emergency room as soon as possible,” says Dr. Schreiber. “The arm or leg should be kept in a stable position, keeping it wrapped with something padded if possible.”
Most fractures can be evaluated at an urgent care facility, depending on the severity. If the arm or leg shows obvious signs of deformity (displaced fracture), the patient should go to the nearest emergency room.
Learn more and get directions to the Nicklaus Children's Emergency Department.
It is important that children of all ages be evaluated by a pediatric orthopedist with experience in treating fractures in children. Children who are under a certain age are still actively growing and fractures can then involve the growth plate.
“Depending on the type of fracture, a doctor may decide that a splint is all that is needed. For more serious injuries, the doctor will likely advise a cast. This will help realign the bone. Even more serious fractures could require surgery, to ensure the bone grows back properly,” says Dr. Schreiber.
Choosing a Treatment Facility
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Urgent Care Centers, located throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, offer urgent care and splitting for the majority of fractures. Patients are then asked to follow up with a pediatric orthopedic specialist for further evaluation.
For more information on our pediatric orthopedic services and locations, visit nicklauschildrens.org/Ortho.