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Bumps, bruises and broken bones are often part of a normal childhood. These injuries usually occur when a child falls and lands on an arm or leg in an awkward position. Broken bones, also known as fractures, are quite common and frequently happen while kids are playing or participating in sports.
Children's bones differ from adults because they have growth plates (also called physes). These are areas of growing tissue near the end of bones that allow for growth. Because of this, some childhood fractures need specialized care. Texas Children's Hospital Orthopedic Fracture Program provides specialized care in evaluating and treating various fractures, including those that involve the growth plate.
Evaluation and testing
After discussing your child's medical history and learning how the injury occurred, an orthopedic surgeon will do a thorough examination. The practitioner will look for:
- Swelling and tenderness
- Deformed or crooked appearance of the injured part
- Tears or openings in the skin
If the doctor suspects the child has a broken bone, additional tests will be ordered.
- X-rays: The most common way to evaluate a fracture is with x-rays. An x-ray takes a picture of the child's arm and can show whether a bone is broken or not.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT): These diagnostic tools usually are not needed for basic fractures.
Treatment and Care
Your health care provider will make sure the bones heal in proper position. Sometimes this will require manipulation or surgery.
- Non-surgical treatment: The provider will perform a closed reduction (putting the pieces of bone back together so they can grow back together as one bone) and immobilize the arm, usually with a cast.
- Surgery: For more serious injuries, your provider may recommend surgery. Your child will be given anesthesia to sleep during the surgery so he won't feel anything. Surgery can involve inserting metal pins in the bone to hold it in a good position during healing.