Treatments for Broken Arm in Children

How are broken arms in children treated?

Treatment of broken arms depends on the specific location and degree (severity) of the break and your child's age, overall health, and medical history.

Your physician will determine your child's treatment plan and follow-up based on her physical examination and other tests.

Non-surgical treatments

Casts and splints

Splints and casts immobilize the injured bone(s) to promote healing and reduce pain and swelling. They are sometimes put on after surgical procedures to ensure that the bone is protected and in the proper alignment as it begins to heal.

Splints are used for minor breaks. Splints support the broken bone on one side and immobilize the injured area to promote bone alignment and healing. Splints are often used in emergency situations to hold a joint in a steady position during transportation to a medical facility.

Casts are stronger than splints and provide more protection to the injured area. They hold a broken bone in place while it heals by immobilizing the area above and below the joint. For example, a child with a forearm fracture will have a long arm cast to immobilize the wrist and elbow joints.

Some common types of casting for broken arms include:




Short arm cast

Applied below the elbow to the hand

Forearm or wrist fractures; also used to hold the forearm or wrist muscles and tendons in place after surgery

Long arm cast

Applied from the upper arm to the hand

Upper arm, elbow or forearm fractures; also used to hold the arm or elbow muscles and tendons in place after surgery

Arm cylinder cast

Applied from the upper arm to the wrist

To hold the elbow muscles and tendons in place after a dislocation or surgery

Traction and closed reduction

Traction corrects broken or dislocated bones by using a gentle and steady pulling motion to stretch muscles and tendons in a specific direction around the broken bone. This allows the bone ends to align and heal, and in some cases, it reduces painful muscle spasms.

Closed reduction is a nonsurgical procedure used to reduce and set the fracture. Using an anesthetic (typically given through an IV in the arm), the doctor realigns the bone fragments from outside the body and holds it in place with a cast or splint.

Surgical treatment

Surgery may be needed to put broken bones back into place. A surgeon may insert metal rods or pins located inside the bone (internal fixation) or outside the body (external fixation) to hold bone fragments in place to allow alignment and healing. This is done under general anesthesia.