Whether it’s a sports injury or just an accident while playing around, there are some keys to making a broken bone more manageable. One of the most important things to do is not to have an overly dramatic response to it.
Your child looks to you for guidance in unfamiliar situations – and not just your words but your actions – so maintain a positive and reassuring attitude while staying realistic about what lies ahead will do wonders for your child. Here are some more things you should know when dealing with a broken bone and the subsequent casting process:
At The Time of the Break
- If they have broken skin in addition to the broken bone, try to move the limb as little as possible and get them to the emergency room as soon as possible.
- If they have rapid swelling – especially around a joint – they need medical attention immediately. Swelling can cause a break that didn’t separate to separate after the fact.
- If you are simply unsure if it’s broken – as some kids make it hard to gauge how much it really hurts – take them home for a hour and observe them. If they are protecting the limb and/or not using it, even when they think you are not looking, take them in for x-rays. It’s better to be safe than sorry. An untreated break can mean more pain later when it essentially has to be “re-broken” to properly set it.
During the Medical Intervention
- You have to pay close attention to what the doctor is telling you regarding the break. There are lots of different types of break – hairline fractures, compound fractures – and each require different treatment from simple casting to surgery to pin the bone back together.
- Ask your doctor how the break relates to your child’s growth plates (these are the parts of a child’s bone that allows for the growth in stature by producing new bone and providing a place for the growth to stem from and be evenly distributed). This will determine the long term impact of how this break will affect your child.
- Make sure that your child is paying attention as best they can for their age level as well. They need to know what is and isn’t okay and often times being told by the doctor will have more impact on them.
Caring for a Cast
- Your top priority when caring for a cast is keeping it clean and DRY! The cast must stay just as it is molded by the technician in order to aid the healing process. If it gets wet it may “reshape” itself and cause more harm than good. Additionally if moisture gets into it can start to mold and/or bring infection to the skin underneath. This means wrapping it in plastic for bathing, keeping it out of the rain and away from pools and lakes.
- Never ever under any circumstances stick anything down the cast – for play, to relieve an itch or anything else! If the skin is scratched but you don’t see the injury, it can become infected and maybe even abscess. If they have an itch have then tap on the cast over the itch – it will help!
- The area around the cast – like the fingers or toes – should look exactly as they do on the other limb. If you notice significant swelling, color changes or temperature differences, contact your doctor immediately. If your child complains that it suddenly “feels funny” or “feels tingly” you need to get to the urgent care or emergency room as it can indicate nerve damage.
- When the child is resting, try to prop the casted limb so that it sits above the heart. This will help relieve swelling and reduce pain in the area.
Having a broken bone is no fun for the child or the parent. But it is something that will get better pretty quickly – most kids only need their casts for 4-6 weeks. It’s important to try to go on with your normal activities. A special note for sports injuries: You should still take your child to practices and games if it’s possible. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about what it really means to be a team, as well as sticking with your obligations. Additionally, you do not want your child to be come “scared” of the sport – sort of going with the theory of getting back on the horse.
Photo by RaGardner4