A common childhood injury
As Melbourne opens up post lockdown and our kids are returning to school and sport, I am noticing the incidence of finger and hand fractures in kids has increased compared to our lockdown days. Parents often call me after their child has had a fall on their hand at school or during sport and say they have been diagnosed with a buckle fracture, but don’t really know what this means or what they should do next.
A buckle fracture is the name given to a minor fracture of the bone in your forearm called the radius. In children, their bones are more bendy. Instead of breaking upon impact, their bone will compress or “buckle,” hence the name buckle fracture.
Symptoms of a Buckle Fracture
Symptoms of a buckle fracture include pain and swelling in the forearm close to the wrist, and pain with movement including forearm rotation. A buckle fracture can be easily diagnosed with an X-ray. The good news is that most buckle fractures do not require surgery and will heal quickly without any complications.
Buckle fractures need to be immobilised in order to heal and this can be managed in a cast or a thermoplastic splint. Speak to your Hand Therapist about a waterproof cast or a thermoplastic splint, which will allow your child to continue gentle swimming and light activities, such as writing and self-care, while the injury heals.
The cast or thermoplastic splint usually needs to be worn at all times for 4-6 weeks. Your Hand Therapist will give you the exact time frames based on your child’s clinical presentation and activity requirements. A follow-up X-ray is not normally needed. Clinical assessment after immobilisation will determine when your child can start using their hand without their cast or splint on, but wearing the splint for sport or rough play is advised for six weeks post injury.