Kids will be kids, right down to the thrills and spills, and many don’t make it through childhood without a broken bone.
“The wrist and collarbone are the most common,” says Dr. John Churchill, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Neither is as problematic as an elbow fracture.
“Since it’s next to the joint, that makes it more challenging to manage. There are multiple growth areas, which makes the x-rays sometimes difficult to interpret. The fracture when it comes out of place is very difficult to set without doing some type of surgery,” says Dr. Churchill.
Playground falls, bike wrecks, trampoline tumbles are the common culprits. Doctors say a broken elbow is not something to play around with.
“The big thing we worry about is an arm that will grow crooked. If it doesn’t heal properly, it doesn’t continue to grow properly, then it will look crooked,” says Dr. Churchill.
Doctors take special precaution to avoid growth plates, which are areas of cartilage at the end of a bone. They also monitor for circulatory problems and infection. Most fractures require three to six weeks in a cast.
“Because kids are not all that trustworthy and we can’t rely upon them to keep a lid on their activities,” says Dr. Churchill.
Parents are generally first responders in evaluating an elbow injury.
“The child will not be able to fully straighten the elbow or bend it up all the way. So if the child’s able to straighten it out all the way and bend it up all the way, you can have a little bit of peace of mind with that,” says Dr. Churchill.
Properly treated, a broken elbow should be nothing more than a bend in the road of life.