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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
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.
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 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.
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.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”