Kids Wrist, Elbow & Knee Fractures


Unless you intend to keep your offspring locked up in the house forever, sheltering them from the outside world is not only impossible, but also ill-advised. Children need to be exposed to positive and negative stimuli alike to have a wholesome development. Unfortunately, letting them inspect the outside world means they might get hurt in the process of exploring, and incur serious injuries such as fractures. However, you do not need to be helpless when your heir breaks a limb. Here are some meaningful ways and tips that might help you the next time he or she gets too playful.

Kids Wrist, Elbow & Knee Fractures – How to tell?

It is easy to tell if a fracture is in play, especially for kids’ elbow fracture and kids’ knee fracture. The easiest way to gauge an injury is to observe the response of your child. If he is screaming and crying, it is likely that he has sustained a heavy injury. There would have been a ‘snap’ sound as well.

broken bone
Look out for signs of swelling (inflammation) and deformity. If there is a bump or even an exposed bone, it is likely a fracture. However, just because there is no sign that something has gone wrong does not mean things are okay. With some types of fractures, the broken bone remains in place, i.e. it rests aligned with its original position. If unsure what is going on, seek medical advice immediately.

Kids Wrist, Elbow & Knee Fractures are Common Injuries

Kids wrist fracture, kids elbow fracture and kids knee fracture are some of the most common types of fractures around. This is due to the fact that one has a natural urge to lift up their arms when falling. However, this does not mean that these are the only areas where a fracture occurs! Fractures can happen anywhere, especially on the knee. Think of ‘key’ places where kids usually land on when they fall. Kids knee fractures are very common due to the sports we play in Singapore as well (basketball, soccer etc.)

Types of elbow fractures:

  • Monteggia fractures.This is when the radial head has moved out of place from the elbow joint.
  • Supracondylar humerus fracture. This is the most common injury affecting the elbow. It happens in the humerus, hence the name. If the fracture is severe, surgery might be required. Any dislocation will have to be fixed before a cast is applied. If the doctor does not put the bone in place and it heals that way, deformity and growth problems will ensure.
  • Condylar fracture. It occurs above the elbow, right in the humerus. The difference between this and supracondylar fractures is that the former involves the surface of the joint.
  • Physeal fractures. It can occur in the ulna, radius, or ulna bones. It usually affects the growth plate.
  • Epicondylar. It can happen at either tip of the bony protuberance in the elbow.

Type of knee fractures:

In most cases, an injury in this part of the body can affect the tibial tubercle, plateau, eminence, or condyle. A fracture is also likely to occur in the patella (the kneecap). This is a very painful experience that can make it difficult to walk or straighten your knee. Needless to say, such injuries need to be treated with extra care.

Types of wrist fractures:

The most commonly occurring wrist fractures in kids are the greenstick and buckle fractures. The former leads to a partial injury in one part of the bone, which causes it to bend on the other side. The latter happens on one side of the bone only. Here, the damaged pieces of bone have not been displaced.

Kids wrist, knee and Elbow Fracture – Immediate Steps to Take

Firstly, ensure the affected area is not moved until it is attended by medical staff. Do not touch any open wounds unless there is severe bleeding. Immobilize the wound, and apply ice to the affected area (do not apply ice directly onto the skin, use a cloth) but not on the wound itself. This will minimise inflammation and swelling, and consequently pain. If you can make a makeshift splint to immobilize the wounded area, do so. This is especially helpful during a kid’s wrist fracture or elbow injuries as children tend to fidget even when wounded.

Secondly, bring your child to a hospital. Use your personal vehicle to do so, and only call an ambulance if you are not with your child and he cannot be driven to the hospital. There are different kinds of fractures, and only trained medical staff can decide what is the next best course of action. The 3 common areas of fracture, kid’s wrist fracture, elbow fracture and knee fracture, all have different types of treatment options. Usually, after an X-ray is taken, and an injury is elucidated fully, a doctor can decide what to do. Typically, the bone is set after local anaesthesia is injected, and a cast is placed to help your child support his arm. The bone then fully heals after 1-3 months.

Pediatrics for Kids Elbow, Knee and Wrist Fracture

It is also a good idea to go to a pediatric for an opinion since they are specialists who have tons of experience in dealing with fractures in children. Usually, a doctor is the first option right after a fracture but there are specialists pediatric doctors who are open 24 hours for such emergencies. It is actually wiser to go to them for hospitals (especially NUH and SGH are very crowded, often even TTSH A&E) have a long waiting time. Compared to some of their common A&E patients, your children might not see priority too because fractures aren’t usually regarded as “emergency” when compared to chest pain and breathing difficulties.

It is vital to keep yourself calm if an accident happens. Remember, your child would be in an even more delirious state than yourself. Assuage your child by comforting him, and promising him that you will cook his favourite meal later.

Nursing my child suffering from Kids Elbow, Knee or Wrist Fracture?

common fracturesBe sure to help your child dress and clean himself while he is recovering, as it is extremely likely that he or she has a limited range of motion. This is also due to the fact that water must not enter the cast at all, or moisture may build up, resulting in a potential infection. It is usually recommended that a protective bag be placed over the cast to prevent water from entering it. For kids’ wrist fracture and elbow dislocation, it is useful to take away their attention with some TV or video as this lowers their chances of moving their arms unnecessarily. For kid’s knee fracture, he is usually going to be immobilized on bed or wheelchair for quite some time, unfortunately.

If your child feels itchy, utilise baby wipes or baby powder to quell the itching. You can also use a wet cloth to wipe your child if it is inconvenient for him to take a shower.

Be sure to give your child guidance on what not to do. He might not be aware that he needs to avoid applying force on his injury, or may put himself at risk by watching his friends play soccer.

When the fracture heals fully, your little one will need physical therapy to help gain back full range of motion.


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