Recovering from a break or surgery safely can seem like a long and hard process. At least it was when my son fractured his left arm at 5 years-old. X-rays showed that he had a left closed fracture of the shaft radius (forearm). A broken bone in a child can be different from a broken bone in an adult, because their bones are not as brittle and may not break all the way through. My son’s fractured bone was twisted back into place using a procedure called Bier Block, and he was later placed in a cast. After a break or surgery, your child may be placed in a cast, splint or pins to hold the bone in place for 6-8 weeks.
Children’s bones tend to heal quickly, but wearing a cast can present challenges. Swelling may occur 48-72 hours after a cast has been placed. If it does:
- Try to keep the limb elevated to heart level even when asleep.
- Have your child constantly move fingers or toes of the injured limb to ensure circulation.
- Apply ice loosely wrapped around the cast not the skin.
Unless a cast is water-proof do not get it wet, play will be limited, and the skin becomes dry and itchy. To protect the skin do not stick anything in the cast to scratch. Talk to your doctor about using an OTC antihistamine or aim a hair dryer on the cool setting under the cast.
Overall assist your child in taking care of the cast and keep it clean. Contact your child’s doctor immediately if he/she reports pain, skin around the cast is red or raw, you smell a foul odor, the cast is too tight/loose or your child experiences numbness or tingling.
1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, April 28). Cast care: Do’s and don’ts. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cast-care/MY01974.
2. Marcellin, L. & McCoy, K. (2009, October 2). Kids and Broken Bones. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/broken-bones.