What to do when a kid’s injury is more than just a bump or bruise

Photograph of girl as a little princes sitting on the ground with a broken leg.

Know the signs

What should you do if you think it’s broken?

  • There is a break in the skin and bone is showing.
  • They can’t bear weight on or use the extremity 15 minutes after the injury occurred.
  • The pain is uncontrollable with rest, elevation, ice and over-the-counter pain medicine.
  • There is a suspected neck or spine injury.

There are some things you can do at home to begin helping right away

Cut or remove clothes

If the arm or leg appears misshapen or swollen, carefully remove or cut clothing surrounding the affected area.

Try to reduce swelling

Apply a cold cloth or ice-wrapped towel to the swollen area. Avoid putting ice directly on the skin (without a cloth or towel), as it could result in frostbite.

Make a temporary splint

A makeshift splint can be used to help limit movement and prevent further injury until you can see a medical professional. You can create a makeshift splint with soft padding and something firm, like cardboard or folded-up newspapers, wrapped with an elastic bandage.

Broken bones can heal with the proper treatment

The doctor will provide specific direction, but kids usually need to wait at least three to six weeks before resuming normal activities so their broken bone can fully heal. The bigger the bone, the longer healing usually takes.

There are bone injuries that are more concerning. Fractures through the growth plate, fractures into the joint, and fractures that injured the nervous or vascular bundles can have long-term consequences. While breaking a bone can seem scary, with the proper medical attention and treatment, your child’s injury will heal, and they can go back to doing the things they love.

Photograph of a teddy with bandages.

You know your child best. If you have concerns or are uncertain about the severity of the injury, it’s always best to seek treatment right away.

Learn more about bumps, bruises and broken bones from Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU at chrichmond.org/brokenbone.

Image of girl by cottonbro from Pexels
Image of teddy by Gaby Stein from Pixabay