3 Ways a Child's Fracture Differs from an Adult’s

3 Ways a Child's Fracture Differs from an Adult’s

Your child has injured himself, and it may be a fracture. He can’t move the injured limb, which is swollen and bruised. He’s in a lot of pain. It’s important to seek treatment immediately. 

If you suspect your child has a fracture, you’ll want to seek medical help from orthopedic specialists to ensure the correct diagnosis, receive expert treatment, and guard against unexpected repercussions. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Urgently OrthoDr. Leah Brown, treats many broken bones in children as well as in adults. 

If your child has a fracture, you’ve joined a group of many other parents. Fractures are fairly common childhood injuries, especially if your child is involved in sports. Almost half of pediatric fractures are forearm fractures, with ankle, collarbone, leg, foot, and elbow fractures making up most other childhood broken bones. 

You want to make sure your child receives expert care so that the bone heals properly. At Urgently Ortho’s office in Scottsdale, Arizona, you’re in the right place.

Pediatric fractures are different than adult fractures 

Your child’s bones are different from yours in ways other than length and circumference. Following are three ways pediatric fractures differ from those of an adult, which impacts their treatment plan. 

Growth plate fracture 

While your child is still growing, their bones are growing, too. A child’s bones contain a “growth plate” at the ends of the long bones (think arms, legs, hands, and fingers). The growth plate is made of tissue which is softer, weaker material than bone. The plate allows your child’s bones to grow as large as their genetic potential allows. 

If your child has a fracture at the growth plate, we want to make sure it heals correctly. If it doesn’t, the bone may grow at a crooked angle or grow more slowly than others. This is the reason we follow your child’s progress carefully for up to 18 months after the break. Many pediatric fractures don’t need surgery, but sometimes fractures around the growth plate do require it to ensure normal bone growth. 


Your child’s bones are more flexible than those of an adult. Because of that, sometimes the break isn’t all the way through the bone, but only on one side of it. This type of break is called a greenstick or bending fracture (think of how green wood bends). Another common type of pediatric fracture is a buckle fracture, in which the bone suffers a dent or buckle on one side; the bone isn’t actually broken. 

Faster healing

Children have some natural protection against broken bones. Your child has a lining of heavy tissue that helps protect against a fracture. It brings a supply of blood to the bone. The blood’s oxygen and other healing nutrients enable the bone to create healthy new cells if a fracture occurs. 

Your child’s healing normally takes place in weeks instead of the months that it takes an adult bone to heal. Adult fractures heal more slowly because there’s less of the protective tissue around the bones.

Treatment for pediatric fractures 

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the fracture. For a minor fracture, your child may only need a splint that immobilizes the problem area. Alternatively, we may fit your child with a cast. 

If the bones are no longer aligned, we need to realign them. Using either local or general anesthesia, we surgically straighten the bones and then place a cast on the area. We provide any assistive devices your child needs to aid his movement. 

Once the cast or splint is no longer needed, your child receives physical therapy to help him regain mobility. The therapist provides instructions on how to do the exercises at home; he’ll need to do them every day while he’s in therapy.

Call or message Urgently Ortho right away if you suspect your child has a fracture. We help your child recover function so that he’s back in the game. 

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