What Is A Fracture?

Fractures are one of the most common orthopedic problems.  The average person statistically will fracture or break a bone twice during their life.
A broken bone is not worse than a fracture, they mean the same thing, it is true you can sustain different types of fractures or breaks, but a fracture and a break are the same thing there are simply different classifications with-in the term fracture.

What Is A Greenstick Fracture?

One such fracture classification is a greenstick fracture.  Greenstick fractures, also classified as an incomplete fracture tend to occur in children because their bones are much more pliable than adult bones.  The name for a greenstick fracture comes from the analogy of breaking a young, fresh tree branch.  Where the broken branch snaps on one side (the outer side of the bend), while the inner side of the branch is bent, and still in continuity.  So one side of the bone has broken and one side is bent therefore it is an incomplete fracture (break).
As mentioned above this happens because a child’s bones are softer and more flexible than those of an adult, so they are more likely to bend than break completely.  The bone cracks but doesn’t break all the way through, just like when you try to break a fresh green stick of wood.


What Bones Are At Risk Of Greenstick Fractures?

Fractures in children often occur when a child falls while playing or involved in sports.  The arm bones are commonly involved because of the tendency to react when falling by throwing out your arms to break your fall.

Diagnosis Of A Greenstick Fracture

Because greenstick fractures may not show the classic signs and symptoms of a typical fracture they can be difficult to diagnose.  Intense pain and obvious deformity that can be typical of broken bones may be absent or minimal in greenstick fractures.  As a result, it can be difficult to diagnose a soft-tissue injury like a sprain or a bad bruise from a greenstick fracture.  X-rays can reveal most greenstick fractures, to help with diagnosis your doctor may require an X-ray of the uninjured limb, for comparison purposes.  In some cases, greenstick fractures can be difficult to view on X ray and your doctor may order an ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scan for better viewing.
A general rule is you should seek medical attention if your child is unable to bear weight on the affected limb or demonstrates decreased range of motion in the injured limb or associated joints.

Treatment Of A Greenstick Fracture

Treatment for broken bones, even incomplete breaks like a greenstick fracture, require immobilization.  Often a greenstick fracture must be bent back into the correct position (called “reduction”) to enable the bone to grow back properly and following reduction casted for a period of time.  Despite that children’s bones tend to heal faster than those of adults, greenstick fractures can take a long time to heal because they often occur in the slower growing part of the bone (in the middle of the long bones) hence a removable splint or casting (immobilisation) can frequently be required for 6-8 weeks following reduction to allow the bone to grow back together properly.

How Can You Reduce The Risk Of Your Child Suffering A Greenstick Fracture?

o Encourage your child to engage in regular exercise, which helps in building strong bones.

o Make sure they always wear the appropriate safety gear for the sports they are involved in.

o Always use the appropriate car seat and seat belt for their age.

o Ensure they receive adequate calcium in their diet to help them build strong bones.


*** The information contained here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your doctor with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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