is it broken?
first things first – when in doubt, get it checked out.
The only sure-fire way to know if a bone is broken is to get an X-ray. You’ll feel better hearing from a professional. However if you are a “wait and see” kind of parent, then a few tidbits of info may help you decide what to do.
sprain/strain = an overstretched, torn or slipped muscle, ligament or tendon. Those are the fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bones or other muscles.
fracture = a broken bone
what are your symptoms?
Many of the symptoms are the same between a break and a sprain – pain, tenderness, bruising and even swelling. Both can make it hard to move or bear weight. But there are a few signs that may tell you what you are dealing with.
Crack or pop? A snap or grinding sound when the injury occurred is more common in the break of a bone, while you are more likely to have heard a pop if you suffered a sprain.
Sharp or dull? A sprain can actually hurt more because it’s a sharp, shooting pain, while a fracture may be more of a dull, throbbing pain. However bad breaks can cause extreme pain.
Can you put weight on it? If you can’t walk or push on something with your arms without a great deal of pain, it’s probably a fracture.
first line of defense
Follow the RICE method for the first 48 hours after an injury. If symptoms continue after two days, see the pediatrician or a pediatric specialist.
kids’ bones need special treatment
No matter how much your child looks like an adult, remember that his bones are still growing — sometimes until age 21! A broken bone in a child needs special care during treatment so it continues to grow normally, especially if it’s in a growth plate. These are areas at the ends of long bones where it expands as the child grows. It’s also the weakest part of a growing skeleton and more likely to be broken. Pediatric orthopaedic specialists have extra training in healing a break in a growth plate, while not stopping the growth. They also use low-dose radiation software during X-rays.