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Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Fractures and Growth-Plate Injuries

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Our fracture team is led by surgeons who specialize in the treatment of bones, muscles and joints (orthopedists). The team also includes physician assistants, orthopedic technologists, nurses and pediatricians trained in sports medicine.

Fractures and Growth-Plate Injuries Treatment Options

Flexible rod stabilization. Courtesy of 'Fundamentals of Pediatric Orthopedics,' © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Flexible rod used to stabilize the thigh while it heals.
 

If your child’s X-ray shows a fracture but the bone is straight and in a good position, we may give them a splint or sling to keep the bone in place while it heals.

Sometimes this splint or sling is all that your child needs while the bone heals. Depending on which bone they have broken and the severity of the break, we may need to put a cast on once swelling is under control.

We apply casts if we think the bone may not heal correctly unless it stays securely in one position. 

We also use casts if they can make your child more comfortable by keeping the broken bone still. This reduces the pain that comes if the broken body part is bumped or moved.

Surgery for Fractures

If your child’s X-ray shows that the broken bone is at an angle and in a bad position, we may need to do a surgical procedure called a fracture reduction. In this operation, we usually are able to bend the fracture into a better position.

If that is not successful, we will make a cut (incision) so we can see the fracture and move it (open reduction). In some cases, we use surgical screws and other devices to keep the bone in place so it can heal correctly.

About 20% of the children we treat for broken bones need surgery. If your child does need an operation, our surgical staff can ensure that they receive the most appropriate surgery for their injury.

Dealing with Growth-Plate Injuries

Most growth-plate injuries will heal without affecting growth. The risk of problems depends on many factors, such as how serious the injury is, how old your child is and which bone they broke.

If your child has or might have a growth-plate injury, the doctor will ask you to watch for signs of growth problems. The doctor will also want your child to come back from time to time in the first one to two years after the injury. The doctor will examine your child, and your child may have X-rays to check for growth problems. For example, the leg that was broken may not be growing as fast as the other leg or it may not be growing straight. 

Some children who develop growth problems may need surgery, such as to adjust the length of a bone, or other care.

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