Most toddlers are full of energy. They jump, run and tag, besides many other activities. This puts them at risk of injury including fractures, especially when they lose balance and fall. As a parent, it helps to understand and to lookout for fracture symptoms. Most fractures in children under five years affect the tibia (also known as the shinbone). But it’s fortunate that babies and toddlers have very pliable bones so that they are less likely to break after a fall. But what does toddler fractures entail?
Toddler Fracture Symptoms
This is where you need to pay attention to every tiny detail in analyzing the injury and determining whether the symptoms are severe enough to call a doctor. Usually, the first reaction after your toddler sprains a leg is swelling in the affected region.
Use your judgment to decide whether the swelling is severe enough to seek medical attention or is a sprain in which case you can treat it at home by applying a cold compress. Do not use ice directly on the swelling; wrap an ice cube in a soft cloth and place it on the affected part.
If the swelling does not seem to improve and instead gets worse, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Increased swelling may be accompanied by redness in that part of the leg, and your child will be in a lot of pain.
However, if you are not sure, it is better to seek medical attention first. There are several warning signs of toddler fracture symptoms including:
A snapping sound if you are within earshot when child falls
Bruising around the region of the sprain
The area will be tender to the touch.
Because of the pain, the child will refuse to stand or walk.
Pain in the affected area
In severe cases, the limb will appear to be bent or out of position.
What Should You Do If You Suspect a Fracture?
Of course, at this point, you are probably worried sick. Well, try to calm down. Phone medical care immediately. In some extreme situations of toddler fracture, you should not even try to move the child because you are not sure of the extent of the damage. Any movement may be, not only excruciating for the baby, but also dangerous in the long run. Such situations include:
You notice a severe injury to the neck, head or back of the child.
You see the broken bone is penetrating the skin.
In such cases, let the child lie there as you call 911. Meanwhile, do not try to push it back or fix it in any way.
For injuries that are not as severe but still need medical attention, you can try the following simple steps to make the child more comfortable as you wait to see a doctor:
Apply a cold compress to the affected part to reduce pain. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin as this may cause other problems to your child.
It may be necessary to remove clothing from the affected part by cutting it off with scissors if necessary to avoid inflicting further pain on the child.
Place a splint on the affected parts and tie it with first aid tape or bandage. Use something firm and make sure it is longer than the joints.
Do not allow the child to eat at that time in case he may need surgery.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Toddler Fracture
What Happens When You Get to the Hospital?
Once in the hospital, your doctor will ask some questions to determine the best course of action. The nurse may also ask when the child ate last in case there is need for anesthesia. After physical examinations, the child may be sent to have an X-ray to determine the nature and extent of the injury. Your child may also be given painkillers to help ease the pain.
What the Doctor Will Do?
The results of the X-ray will tell the doctor the extent and nature of the toddler fracture symptoms. From there on the physician will determine the best course of action. If the bone is broken, a specialist doctor (orthopedist) will be called in to decide if there is need to apply a cast.
There are situations where the broken joint may need to be 'fixed' by being put back to its original place. This process is painful, and your child will be placed under anesthesia for about twenty minutes or the duration needed to fix the dislocation.
This is normally done through intravenously. In other cases, the specialist will put a cast on the affected part. If the orthopedist is not available immediately, the GP will put an open cast on the child as you wait for the specialist.
When Will a Broken Bone Heal?
Toddler fracture symptoms take time to heal, depending on the severity of the injury and the age of the child. For toddler and babies, it usually takes up to three weeks. The duration increases with age. It can take up to six weeks for children in their teens to heal properly.
During the healing period, ensure that your little one does not engage in physically demanding activities such as running and jumping around. If the child is a toddler, this may be a challenging task for you, but it mitigates the risk of worsening the situation further. Meanwhile always take the child for regular checkups until it is time for removal of the cast.
How to Prevent Toddler Fracture
Although toddler fracture is common in children, it is important to take preventative measures to mitigate the risk of injuries at home. You can do this by childproofing your home. Take safety precaution by ensuring that your children wear protective helmets and safety gears when they are out and engaging in activities such as riding bicycles and other outdoor sports.
Always make sure that your kids have a healthy balance of nutritious food, especially vitamin D and calcium. Soymilk, orange juice and egg yolk are rich in vitamin D. Milk and other dairy products, sardines, and nuts are rich in calcium
Make sure that your children eat green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and green beans even when they don’t fancy it. These foods will help strengthen their bones and reduce chances of osteoporosis (fragile bones).
Some children are born into families with pre-existing conditions such as osteogenesis imperfecta a condition which makes the bones brittle and easy to break. Such children need extra care when it comes to diet and outdoor activities.