Summertime:  Fun, Freedom and… Fractures?

Summertime: Fun, Freedom and… Fractures?

Dr. Jay Savage

It’s no secret that summer on the Eastern Shore is loaded with opportunities to get out, get active and enjoy this beautiful area that we are blessed to call home.  But, sometimes summertime fun for our children can be interrupted by an injury, and if it happens in your house it can be helpful to know that you are not alone.  The struggle is real, and for younger children an injury often means a broken bone or fracture that will require treatment and possibly even the dreaded summertime cast.

It’s not a coincidence that the season for extended daylight and outdoor activity is also the season for broken bones. Increased physical activity leads to increased likelihood of bone fractures. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 3.5 million sports-related injuries occur each year in the United States to children younger than age 15, with fractures among the most common.

Broken bones in children are often very different than similar adult injuries.  Our kids’ bones are growing and they have open areas in the bone call physes or “growth plates” that are more susceptible to injury.  Children are also susceptible to “greenstick” fractures where the bone may bend and break on one side but not break completely through the bone.  This is similar to the way that a green limb from a tree or bush may splinter on one side when it is bent, but not completely break in two.

These specific characteristics of children’s bones make them more likely to have a fracture rather that a sprain on strain even during the course of normal activity or seemingly minor falls, bumps or bruises.  Common signs of a fracture include swelling, redness, tenderness to touch, “fever” in the area of injury and a child avoiding motion of the injured area. 

If your child has these symptoms after an injury, evaluation by an Orthopedic specialist with a physical exam and x-ray are usually all that is needed for a prompt diagnosis.  Treatment usually consists of a cast or brace for several weeks, but the good news is that kids heal much faster that we do as adults!  That means they should out of that cast and back to enjoying their summertime fun in less time that you might expect!