Children are especially prone to forearm fractures. In fact, almost half of childhood fractures involve either the radius or ulna — the two bones of the forearm — or both.
Because young bones are still growing, it is imperative that you seek treatment as quickly as possible. Rather than take your chances with an emergency room surgeon, however, consider taking your child to a doctor that specializes in treating forearm fractures.
Children Face an Increased Risk of Forearm Fracture
Kids are always breaking something, and too often it’s their arm.
One reason for this is that the growth plates — sections of cartilage that allow young bones to grow — are more fragile than bone. The other reason has to do with how much kids love to run, jump, play sports and horse around.
If your child falls on an outstretched arm or has a sports-related accident, one or both of the bones may fracture. The break can occur near the wrist, in the center of the bone or near the elbow. The break may also result in displacement of the bone.
Symptoms typically involve severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and potentially, numbness in the hand or arm. Numbness may indicate nerve damage.
Treating Forearm Fractures in Children
To diagnose a forearm fracture, the doctor will perform an exam and order imaging tests, typically X-rays.
Some breaks can be treated nonsurgically; these are called a closed reduction.
For more serious breaks, surgery may be necessary to reposition the bone. The surgeon may use pins, plates or screws to hold the sections of bone in place during the healing process.
After the bone has been set, your child will wear a cast or splint for several weeks. The bones will need another few weeks to return to their normal strength; consequently, your child should take it easy while playing or participating in sports.
The surgeon will likely want to follow up with your child in a few months to ensure that the break did not interfere with the growth process.
Can Parents Help Prevent Kids’ Forearm Fractures?
Because kids will be kids, parents can’t possibly prevent every broken bone during childhood. They can, however, help keep their kids safe by taking some basic precautions.
Ensure that kids wear appropriate safety equipment for sports, and that all equipment is new and fits correctly. Make sure your child understands the rules of their sport and any recommended safety measures.
When kids eat a balanced diet (including enough calcium and vitamin D for bone health) and get plenty of sleep and exercise, they will enjoy more robust health overall. That way, if they break a bone or suffer another kind of injury, they can heal more quickly with fewer complications.
The Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence (CORE) provides expert treatment of wrist, hand and forearm fractures. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.