You have probably heard it said, and maybe even said it yourself, that when a child is hurt, it hurts the parent twice as much. Of course that is debatable, but indisputably it can be very hard on a parent seeing a toddler fall down and sustain a fracture.
That said, you are never going to prevent a toddler from ever falling down, and at some point it is very possible that a fracture will occur. Toddlers hardly ever incur a sprain – it is almost invariably a fracture. The good news is that even when a fracture does occur in a young child, it will usually heal quickly.
Identifying a Wrist or Arm Fracture in a Toddler
Toddlers are like the rest of us – when forward movement goes wrong, the natural reaction is to extend the hand in order to break the fall. Unfortunately, sometimes breaking the fall means breaking the wrist or the arm. Your first tip-off that a fracture may have occurred is obvious – the child will begin to cry. Do not assume, though, that just because the child can move the wrist or the arm, nothing is broken. You may not even be aware that a fracture has occurred unless the bone is obviously out of position. Generally speaking, if the child is in pain, and the pain does not ease quickly, a fracture is possible.
Types of Wrist and Arm Fractures in Toddlers
One of the most common fractures in toddlers occurs above the wrist, in the radius, which is the large bone in the forearm. In fact, nearly half of the broken bones in toddlers occur close to the end of the radius.
Another type of fracture is a “torus” fracture, where the bone collapses but does not break completely. This type of fracture usually heals well.
A greenstick fracture is another type of partial fracture that usually heals well. With a greenstick fracture, you may not notice symptoms – there could be very little bruising or swelling, but the child will be reluctant to use the arm, and the area may be tender. The joints will all still move.
See a Doctor
You probably know that doctors are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse. Unfortunately, that knowledge sometimes makes good parents reluctant to seek medical assistance. Keep in mind that if the incident is isolated, and the child does not appear to have any other injuries, the doctor is very likely to accept your explanation that it was an accident. You should never be afraid to take your child to the doctor if you suspect a fracture.
Feel free to contact our hand surgeon’s office in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb to get in touch with a medical professional.
Most Toddler Fractures Heal Easily
Most of the time, when a toddler has had a fracture of the arm or wrist, he or she will want to begin using the arm right away. Frequently, this is not a problem, as toddlers heal very quickly and effectively. Sometimes, though, the doctor may recommend the use of a sling. Obviously, the arm or wrist should be handled more gently than usual as healing progresses.