Broken Bones | Broken bones in children | Broken bones fractures | Broken bone in wrist
The harder kids play, the harder they fall. The fact is, broken bones, or fractures, are common in childhood and often happen when kids are playing or participating in sports. Most fractures occur in the upper extremities: the wrist, the forearm, and above the elbow. Why? When children fall, it’s a natural instinct for them to throw their hands out in an attempt to stop it.
Although many kids will have one at some point, a broken bone can be scary for them and parents alike. To help make things a little easier if a spill results in a fracture, here’s the lowdown on what to expect.
What Happens When You Break a Bone?
It hurts to break a bone! It’s different for everyone, but the pain is often like the deep ache you get from a super bad stomachache or headache. Some people may experience sharper pain – especially with an open fracture. And if the fracture is small, a kid may not feel much pain at all. Sometimes, a kid won’t even be able to tell that he or she broke a bone!
Breaking a bone is a big shock to your whole body. It’s normal for you to receive strong messages from parts of your body that aren’t anywhere close to the fracture. You may feel dizzy, woozy, or chilly from the shock. A lot of people cry for a while. Some people pass out until their bodies have time to adjust to all the signals they’re getting. And other people don’t feel any pain right away because of the shock of the injury (say: in-juh-ree).
If you think you or someone else has broken a bone, the most important things to do are to:
* stay calm
* make sure the person who is hurt is as comfortable as possible
* tell an adult
* if there are no adults around, call 911 or the emergency number in your area
The worst thing for a broken bone is to move it. This will hurt the person and it can make the injury worse! In the case of a broken arm or leg, a grown-up may be able to cushion or support the surrounding area with towels or pillows.
One super-important tip: If you’re not sure what bone is broken or you think the neck or back is broken, do not try to move the injured person. Wait until a trained medical professional has arrived!
Doctors describe fractures in the following ways:
* A complete fracture is when the bone has broken into two pieces.
* A greenstick fracture is when the bone cracks on one side only, not all the way through.
* A single fracture is when the bone is broken in one place.
* A comminuted (say: kah-muh-noot-ed) fracture is when the bone is broken into more than two pieces or crushed.
* A bowing fracture, which only happens in kids, is when the bone bends but doesn’t break.
* An open fracture is when the bone is sticking through the skin.
How Do Broken Bones Heal?
Your bones are natural healers. At the location of the fracture, your bones will produce lots of new cells and tiny blood vessels that rebuild the bone. These cells cover both ends of the broken part of the bone and close up the break until it’s as good as new.
Broken Bones in Children
Across the country, doctors are reporting a steady increase in the number of children with broken bones.
“The fact of the matter is that children are breaking [bones] all over,” said Dr. Laura Tosi, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It’s a very high incidence of elbow fractures, as well as fractures in the mid-part of the arm, and in the hand.”
A recently published study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that over the last 30 years the number of forearm fractures in that city has climbed more than 32 percent in boys, and 56 percent in girls.
Researchers say they are not sure why the fracture rate is rising. But they suspect a major reason is that children are not getting enough calcium, which is essential for strong bones.
“Calcium deficiency is the major dietary deficiency in America’s children today,” Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told ABCNEWS.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 86 percent of teenage girls and 64 percent of teenage boys are “calcium deficient”; in other words, they lack the recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium, which is 1,300 milligrams, the equivalent of about four 8-ounce glasses of milk a day.
“Over the last 20 to 30 years, there’s been a shift away from milk as the standard drink at meals and for increased use of soft drinks and juices, and other drinks by kids at all ages,” said Alexander.
Much Greater Long-Term Risk
Calcium from milk is considered ideal because it’s highly concentrated and easily absorbed by the body. Milk also contains potassium, magnesium and protein that are essential for healthy bones.
“Without adequate milk consumption it’s virtually impossible for a child to get the calcium intake they need in their diets,” said Alexander.
And a child has critical calcium needs.
Calcium is effective at building bones, but researchers say only until the age of 20. After that, regardless of how much you take, bone mass does not increase, and the slow process of bone loss soon begins.