Wrist buckle fracture

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What has happened to my child’s wrist?

Your child has broken the radius and/or ulna bone in their wrist. This injury is known as a “buckle” fracture (Figure 1). This sort of fracture is very common in children. It is actually just a bulge in the bone as it has been squashed.

What treatment does my child need?

These fractures heal well with rest and time. Research has shown that this injury will heal well in a removable splint (see Figure 2) which gives support and protection. Splints are usually more comfortable for the child and are easier to manage than a cast. The wrist splint should be worn for three to four weeks, day and night so that the chance of further injury is reduced. However, the splint may be taken off for bathing, or if you need to wash and dry the splint itself. Simple pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen should be given regularly (according to directions on the package) until your child is comfortable. If your child gets any numbness in the hand, you should loosen the splint. Encourage your child to move their shoulder, elbow, and fingers, so they don’t get stiff. If severe pain continues, or if there is a lot of swelling or numbness you should bring your child to the Emergency Department for review.

How do I wash the splint?

If the splint becomes dirty or sweaty it can be hand washed in lukewarm water with mild detergent. Rinse and air dry only. This may be best done in the evening or overnight so that the splint can be reapplied for daytime activities.

When should my child see the GP?

You may be asked to see your GP within 1 week for your child to be reassessed to make sure pain is controlled and the splint is well-fitting. No further X-rays are required. After three weeks the splint may be removed.

How long will the fracture take to heal?

Healing takes three to four weeks depending on the age of your child. Expect the wrist to be stiff for a few days after removal of the splint. This should improve over the next week or two. Avoid rough play and contact sports, as well as activities such as trampoline and skateboard riding for a total of SIX weeks after the injury.

The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

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