Pediatric Injuries Specialist

Urgently Ortho

Orthopedic Urgent Care & Sports Medicine Clinic

Pediatric Injuries Q & A

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Breaking a bone is common in childhood, but most pediatric fractures present fewer complications than fractures in adults. For urgent care, day or night, when you suspect your child has fractured a bone, contact Ephraim Dickinson, MD and Brieana Brady, PA-C at Urgently Ortho at their San Francisco clinic. Urgently Ortho provides out-of-hours services for all orthopedic injuries, so call them to discuss any musculoskeletal problems, or book online.

What are pediatric fractures and injuries?

Fractures are broken bones, and they occur relatively frequently in children because their bones haven’t matured. When bones are growing, they’re softer than adult bones, which helps prevent injury; in some cases, children often escape unharmed from situations where adult bones would fracture.

There are four main types of fractures:

  • Displaced fracture - bone snaps in two or more parts so ends are misaligned
  • Non-displaced fracture - bone cracks in part or right through but isn’t misaligned
  • Closed fracture - bone is broken, but there’s no damage to the skin
  • Open fracture - there is a wound through which bone may be visible

Within these are subtypes, including:

  • Comminuted fracture - bone is broken into multiple pieces
  • Oblique fracture - break is at an angle
  • Pathologic fracture - break is caused by weakened bone as a result of disease
  • Stress fracture - hairline cracks
  • Transverse fracture - break runs along the length of the bone

There are certain types of fractures that only affect children:

  • Greenstick fractures - bones bend but don’t completely break
  • Buckle fractures - two bones get forced into each other
  • Growth plate fractures - joint injuries that may cause bones to shorten

The seriousness of a fracture depends on the type of break, with one of the chief concerns being the risk of infection to damaged bones.

What are the symptoms of pediatric fractures?

Your child normally experiences pain that causes them distress and alerts you to the injury. Typical physical symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Bruising or redness on the skin
  • A limb or joint that looks out of alignment
  • Pain that worsens with pressure or movement
  • Loss of use of the affected area, like being unable to walk

If the fracture is open, you’ll probably see the bone sticking through the skin.

How is a fracture diagnosed?

If you suspect your child may have fractured a bone, treat it as a medical emergency. X-rays are the usual diagnostic tool doctors use, although in some cases a CT scan, MRI, or bone scan may be required.

How are pediatric fractures treated?

For broken bones to heal correctly, they need to be put carefully back into exactly the right position and held in place during the healing process. The bone-setting process is called reduction, and in children, it’s normal to reposition the bones without surgery, which is called closed reduction.

Serious breaks could need surgical reduction, and open fractures need thorough cleaning and treatment to prevent infection. Following reduction, the affected area is immobilized using a cast or splint to allow the bones and tissues to heal. An important element of the healing process is rehabilitation that includes regular exercises designed to promote blood flow and reduce healing time.

If your child has an accident or sustains an injury, call Urgently Ortho straight away for specialist orthopedic care. 


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