Greenstick Fractures

Children get fractures a lot. But most of them seem to get fractures specifically called "greenstick fractures". Read on to know what that means.

Most children play a lot. And naturally, they get hurt. Unfortunately enough, they get their tender bones fractured at an early age if they’re not careful enough. Children usually get fractures a lot. Hands and legs are the main areas of incidence here. But the fractures that take place aren’t strictly fractures. They’re something called greenstick fractures.

Consider a young green stem. Bend it on one side. If you notice, there are two sides to the bending. One side is called the compression side and the other is called the expansion side.  It bends, upto a certain extent, after which the side of tension breaks or ruptures while the side of compression remains intact. When you let go after this, you’ll notice that the stem hasn’t broken fully at all; one side of it’s just ruptured while the other is intact. This is exactly what happens to a child’s bone when this fracture occurs.

The fracture looks just like a normal fracture, with pain concentrated on a specific area and the general vicinity of the fracture looking bruised and red. But the distinguishing feature is that here, the bone does not look broken or deformed at all. Most of the time, these fractures go unnoticed.

One side of the bone gets bent, while the other side breaks or ruptures. But the bone hasn’t been broken off; it remains one bone as a whole. It’s just been bent on one side. This occurs when kids take a high velocity fall and land on their arms, or when they hit something hard at an angle. Although it may be daunting for the kid, it is actually nothing much to worry about in terms of healing.

Greenstick fractures take about 21 days to heal and then, recovery is complete. Once the fracture has been determined, medical treatment usually involves placing the injured arm or leg in a plaster cast, or a splint. Realignment is easy, because the bone just needs to be readjusted back in its place.

The main problem with the greenstick fracture is that it looks and feels just like a sprain, especially when it happens on the leg. Ignoring this can result in the bend worsening in pain and severity, finally splintering into a full blown fracture. So, a general piece of good advice is, if you’ve suffered a fall or an intense collision, and you’re not older than 25, it’s time to go get that X-ray and make sure that it’s not a greenstick fracture.

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