Children’s Forearm and Wrist Fractures

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Children’s forearm and wrist fractures are common and usually result from a simple fall.

Fractures may involve the mid-portion of the radius and/or the ulna — these are known as forearm fractures — or more commonly involve the far end of the forearm, often referred to as a wrist fracture.

How these fractures are treated, and how quickly they heal, depends very much upon the age of your child. Very young children’s bones heal extremely quickly, and if these bones heal with any angulation the bones will straighten as they grow — a process known as a remodelling. This means that it is less likely that any intervention for their injury will be required. A splint for symptom control is often sufficient treatment.

Older children, who have nearly stopped growing, have little potential to remodel their bones, and will therefore be treated in a similar fashion to an adult. It is therefore more likely that they may need an operation to push the bones back into the correct position, which may also then require holding in place with pins, plates or nails.

Lying between these two age groups are the full spectrum of children and their evolving bone/fracture characteristics. Your surgeon is an expert in managing children’s forearm and wrist fractures and will discuss with you and your child the best treatment plan for them.

Key Points — Surgical Treatment

  • The surgery will be performed under a general anaesthetic.
  • Most patients will go home on the day or day after their surgery.
  • The fixation may be additionally protected by a plaster cast for 3–6 weeks.
  • Your child may have percutaneous pins/wires to hold their fracture, which can be removed in the clinic after 3–4 weeks.
  • Return to sports will be fracture and age-specific, but will usually be after at least 2 months.
  • Any plates or intramedullary nails are usually removed under a general anaesthetic after several months, once the fracture has solidly healed.

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