Bones that are fractured but do not break all the way through are called greenstick or green fractures. Because the bones of a child are still soft and flexible, they do not crack completely just like when you break a green stick that will bend and crack but will still be attached to the other side. Most greenstick fractures are quite hard to diagnose because unlike adult fractures that can easily show symptoms, children’s greenstick fractures usually do not show any manifestation until the child complains of pain, has a fever and then days passed before symptoms will appear.
Types of Greenstick Fractures
There are three basic types of greenstick fractures and these are the following:
• Transverse fracture. This occurs in the cortex and goes through the mid-portion of the bone and then stop along the longitudinal axis of the bone without actually damaging the opposite cortex.
• Buckling fracture or torus. This fracture is commonly caused by impaction. The bone is crushed straight from its axis and the bone bended and part of it gets impacted on its own piece.
• Bow fracture. The bone is shaped like a bow as it curved along its longitudinal axis.
Green fracture wrist is common.
When a child had an accident and there is a slight deformity in his or her limb, the doctor can qualify this as a possible case of green fracture. However, in order to be sure, X-rays must be taken on both limbs and then compare the bone of the injured to the uninjured. If the X-rays still do not show any image of fracture, an ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scan will be the next option for a better imaging diagnosis. Rehabilitation or rehab is very important.
Green Bone Fracture Causes
The most common causes of greenstick fractures are falls when a child is participating in sports, falls from heights, or from riding a bicycle. The arm bones get the fracture when the child outstretched his arm to break his fall. Blunt trauma such as a child had a hard blow by a solid object in the arm is another cause.
A typical greenstick fracture will cause pain, deformity, and swelling but sometimes these may be absent or very minimal. Bruises sometimes do not even appear because as the bones break it does not become displaced so sometimes undetected. In this case, the greenstick fracture will heal alone without the parents knowing the child had an arm bone fracture. However, there could also be symptoms on some cases such as:
• Pain in the injured area when the hand is bent.
• Swelling may appear days after a severe fracture occurred
• An X-ray or CT scan will reveal the real issue of the bone
Green Fracture Treatment
Although a greenstick fracture is not a severe case of child’s fracture, it still needs immobilization so that the bone can grow back together. Casting the limb may be the perfect solution to keep the bone still. A splint can also be recommended depending on the doctor’s recognition on the condition of the bone. The good thing about splinting is that the child can take it off when he or she needs to go to the shower.
Casts for children are usually made of water resistant material and they even have variety of designs or colors. However, the child should not be allowed to go swimming while under the cast or splint to prevent bone displacement. After several days, the doctor will take an X-ray again to make sure the bone is healing properly. Because children’s bones are still developing, they tend to heal faster and in about 3 or 4 weeks, the splint or cast can be replaced with a smaller version until the bone completely healed. After the cast is removed, the child must also undergo muscle strengthening through home physical therapy.
Green Fracture Healing Time or Recovery Time: It takes more than 5 weeks.
Prevention of Green Bone Injury
Children are inherently active and you could hardly see them stay in one place thus they are prone to self-inflicted injury. Still you must do something to prevent them from having bone fractures. Encourage them to have regular exercise by telling them to play in a safer environment such as the lawn or on the park. When they are already in sports, make them wear safety gears. During their rides in your vehicle, you must always secure them with seat belts regardless of their ages. Lastly, provide them adequate calcium in their diet to make their bones stronger. Milk, eggs, and other dairy products are the best sources of calcium. You can also consult your doctor when it seems your child need calcium supplements.
When to Call A Doctor
If the child had an accident and you see his arm a little deformed with accompanying pain, bring the child immediately to his doctor. The doctor may recommend him or her for an x-ray just to make sure. Especially if the child had a swollen, pale, or discoloring toes or fingers, these are crucial signs that the child has a greenstick fracture.