Fractures in Children: Risks and Treatment
A common injury among children is fractured bones. Unlike adults, children’s bones are not fully developed, making them more prone to bone injuries.
What are the risks of fractures in children? How are fractures diagnosed and treated in children? Is it safe for children to undergo X-rays and other scans? Are there precautions for such procedures?
This article discusses fractures in children. It includes risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of fractures in children.
If your child is experiencing knee pain after a fall incident, it would be best to contact your healthcare provider. The doctor may order a knee MRI to diagnose a fracture or evaluate your child’s knee condition. Click on the link to learn more so you can prepare your child for such a procedure.
Risks of Fracture in Children
About one-third of children below 17 years old, mostly boys, have experienced a bone fracture.
Several risk factors for bone fracture in childhood include lack of physical activity and sunlight exposure. Other risks are being overweight, poor nutrition, lower bone mass, usage of medication that can cause bone thinning, and a history of bone fractures.
In healthy children, fractures occur because of an injury or trauma. For instance, a fall injury while playing or during a sporting event.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Fractures in Children
Fractured bones in children have more potential to heal well because young bones have thicker covering and are more flexible. However, children are prone to additional fractures as their bones are still developing.
Before any treatment, your doctor or physician will first evaluate your kid’s fracture. The doctor will examine the injured area’s redness, swelling, and tenderness.
The doctor may ask your kid to move the injured area. You will have to inform the doctor how the injury happened and your child’s health history.
After the initial assessment, the doctor may proceed to treat your kid’s fracture based on the symptoms or order a diagnostic image testing.
Diagnostic image testing is a painless technique of visual examination of the body to determine the appropriate type of treatment for your child.
Standard diagnostic tests are X-ray, MRI, and CT scan.
An X-ray is the most common requested scan to determine if your child has fractured bones. It is the fastest and easiest way for a doctor to assess your child’s bone condition.
Sometimes, an X-ray cannot determine when a child has fractured bones because it provides limited information about joints, tendons, and muscles. In such cases, your doctor can recommend an MRI.
An MRI can make detailed images of the body’s organs and structures. Another option for diagnosing fractures in children is a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
A CT scan shows dimensional imaging of the body’s bones, fat, muscles, and organs. It is a definitive diagnostic test for pelvic and spine fractures as it is more detailed than X-ray results.
Treatment of fractured bones in children depends on their age and the severity of the injury. Common treatments for fractures in children are boots, casts, splints or braces, or surgery.
A boot is what your child’s doctor uses when an injury occurs in the lower body. The boot prevents the foot and ankle from moving while the injury is healing.
You may remove the boot for a short period, such as when treating the injured area with an ice bath.
Casts and splints are other options for treating a fractured bone.
Casts are sturdier than splints and safeguard the injured area better. It has hard-bound protection on the outside and a softer layer inside. The type of cast depends on the severity of the fracture.
Your child’s fractured bones may swell at times. In this case, doctors prefer putting a splint on the injured area rather than a cast. Once the injured area swells, it may get too tight and hinder blood circulation.
Once the swelling eases, the cast will replace your kid’s splint.
There are other treatment options for your child’s fractured bone. Such as reduction and surgery.
Reduction can fix your child’s broken bone from the outside without having a surgical procedure. A splint or cast will be placed around your kid’s injured area to help realign the bones.
The reduction procedure is done in the emergency room. With the help of medication to manage the pain, your child may not remember the procedure.
In severe cases, your doctor can suggest surgery. A surgical procedure ensures the proper alignment of your child’s broken bones. You will have to wait until the swelling goes away before your child can have bone alignment surgery.
Your child will be given sedatives or general anesthesia before the surgery begins. A metal pin, screw, or plate will be placed into the bone through minor cuts into the skin and muscle to ensure proper healing.