What has happened to my child’s wrist?
The two bones in your child’s forearm are called the radius and ulna. If your child has fallen onto their wrist, they may have an injury known as a “buckle” fracture (Figure 1). This fracture is very common in children and presents as a bulge in the bone as it has been squashed
What treatment does my child need?
These fractures heal well with rest and time. A removable wrist splint should be worn for comfort for three to four weeks, day and night (except when it is removed for washing and drying) to reduce the chance of further injury. However, the splint can be taken off for bathing, or if you need to wash the splint itself, as long as the removal is well tolerated by your child (Figure 2). Pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen should be given regularly until your child is comfortable. Give your child the dose that is recommended on the packaging for their age and weight. If your child gets any numbness in the hand, you should loosen the splint. Ask 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 your local doctor or the Emergency Department for review.
Why hasn’t a plaster cast been applied?
Research has shown that wrist buckle fractures will heal well in a splint which gives support and protection. Splints are usually more comfortable for the child and easier to care for.
How do I wash the splint?
Hand wash in lukewarm water with mild detergent. Rinse and air dry only. This is best done overnight so that the splint can be put back on for daytime activities.
When should my child see the GP?
You may be asked to see your GP within 1 week. This is for your child to be reassessed to make sure pain is controlled and the splint is well-fitting. No further X-rays are needed. After three to four weeks the splint should be able to be removed and left off.
How long will the fracture take to heal?
Healing will take three to four weeks. Expect the wrist to be stiff for a few days after removal. This should improve over the next week or two. Your child should avoid rough play and contact sports, as well as activities such as trampolining and skateboarding for a total of SIX weeks after the injury.