Pediatric Wrist and Forearm Fractures

Pediatric Wrist and Forearm Fractures

July 18, 2021

Paul Nielsen, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon

What Are the Symptoms of a Pediatric Wrist or Forearm Fracture?

  • Pain in the wrist or forearm after an injury
  • Significant swelling in the forearm
  • Refusal to use the arm in younger children

What Are Common Causes of These Pediatric Fractures?

  • Falling off playground equipment like monkey bars or trampolines
  • Landing on the arm after a fall while running

Are There Different Types of Breaks?

  • Location
    • Wrist: involve the radius or ulna bone at the end of the forearm or wrist
    • Forearm: involve the middle or upper part of the arm and usually both bones
  • Growth Plate Fractures
    • The cartilage growth plates at the end of the bone can be involved in the fracture
    • These typically need to be monitored longer-term to make sure the bone continues growing normally
  • Open Fractures
    • The bone comes through the skin and is contaminated
    • Typically are fixed emergently to decrease risk of infection

How are Wrist and Forearm Fractures Treated?

  • Mildly displaced or angled fractures can often be treated with immobilization
    • Usually a splint or cast for 6 weeks
    • Kids are often able to correct a small amount of angle while they grow and heal
    • Some non-displaced breaks called buckle fractures can be treated with a removable splint
  • More displaced breaks are often treated with a closed reduction or “setting”
    • Sedation is given through an IV but usually no breathing tube is inserted
    • The broken arm is straightened and a cast is placed to hold it lined up
  • Surgery is typically reserved for breaks that re-displace after a closed reduction or teenagers who are almost done growing

Concerned about a wrist or forearm fracture for your child? Call 308-865-2570 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nielsen today. Same day appointments typically available. No referral required.


About the Author

Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand, elbow, and shoulder surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.

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