It happens: Your child tumbles from their scooter or collides with another child on the trampoline. Or maybe they sustain an injury during one of their soccer games. You wonder if it’s a sprain and whether you need to take a trip to the emergency room.
The answer: probably not. Orthopedic Walk-In Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-Orthopedic, Spine and Pain offers a specialized, same-day care option for fractures.
A child’s bone may be broken if there is persistent pain, such as discomfort that lasts all night and isn’t helped by acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Parents may notice swelling at the site of the injury, a bump, or a limb doesn’t look straight anymore, says David Wilson, a Certified Physician Assistant with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care.
“Our goal is to evaluate a child’s injury and begin the healing process so they may return to normal activities as quickly as possible,” Wilson says.
An initial evaluation may include X-rays to determine if the bone is, in fact, broken, and if so, how. Common types of fractures in children include:
- Buckle — Also known as a Torus fracture, which means the bone has buckled or bent, and may be cracked to the outer edge of the bone, but not broken. It’s common and often occurs in the wrist after a fall.
- Greenstick — Occurs when the bone bends and cracks but does not separate into pieces, similar to when you try to break a green stick. This fracture occurs in children younger than age 10.
- Complete — A break that occurs through the bone. There are different types of complete fractures, depending on how the break appears in the bone.
- Physeal — A type of fracture that occurs at the growth plate and is exclusive to children who are growing. Special care is taken to identify and treat these, as they can impact the long-term growth of the bone.
- Compound — One in which the bone is protruding from the skin. These types of fractures should be seen in the emergency department. Parents also should choose to take their kids to the emergency department if there are other injuries in addition to the potential break, Wilson says.
Orthopedic Walk-in Care is staffed by specialists in orthopedic care, sports injuries and rehabilitation, Wilson says. These medical providers can manage the commonly seen fractures in children, including breaks to the wrist, clavicle, elbow, ankle or foot.
The reasons for injuries can vary, but scooters, playgrounds and trampolines are often culprits.
“If you’re jumping with other kids, you can end up colliding and falling, and falling awkwardly,” Wilson says. “And there you may see a wrist fracture, or you may even see what we call a torus fracture in the ankle or the lower leg region.”
In most cases, children who have sustained a fracture will receive a splint first and then a cast at a later appointment to allow for swelling to occur at the injury site, Wilson says. Patients will make a follow-up appointment with a non-surgical orthopedic sports medicine provider, who will provide a complete plan of care and follow the fracture until it’s healed.
In some cases, the fracture may require evaluation for possible surgery. When this happens, the clinic staff will contact an orthopedic surgery trauma specialist or another specialist, Wilson says.
“Most of the time, you don’t have to go to the emergency room,” he says. “We have expertise in dealing with bone injuries. We can help make the process go smoothly for the patient, and that’s really all about what we’re trying to do.”