Fractures | Symptoms and Causes

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What are the symptoms of a fracture?

The signs and symptoms of a fracture include:

  • pain or swelling in the injured area
  • obvious deformity in the injured area
  • difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal manner
  • warmth, bruising or redness in the injured area

What causes a fracture?

Fractures happen when there’s more force applied to the bone than the bone can absorb. These breaks in bones can occur from falls, trauma or a direct blow. Most fractures result from mild to moderate — rather than severe — trauma that happens while they’re playing and participating in sports. The arms are the most common location for fractures.

As children and adolescents approach adulthood, their risk for fractures increases. Boys are more likely than girls to get a fracture, and there also are certain factors that may increase the risk, such as poor nutrition, including lack of calcium in the diet; obesity; and a previous history of fractures.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical care immediately if your child displays any of symptoms of a fracture. Do not move your child and call 911 immediately if the bone exits or is exposed through the skin.

For other types of fractures, follow these steps while you are waiting for medical attention:

  • Remove clothing from around the fracture without moving the injured limb. You may need to cut clothing off with scissors.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in cloth. Do not apply it directly on the skin. Do not apply heat in any form for at least 24 hours, since heat increases swelling and pain.
  • Stabilize the injury as soon as it happens by keeping the injured limb in the same position.
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