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Broken Bones Overview

What is a broken bone?

Broken bones (also called bone fractures) are a common injury in kids, teens and young adults usually caused by a fall or from sports. Most fractures occur in the bones on the upper part of the body, like the wrist, forearm and above the elbow (because when we fall, it's a natural instinct to reach out our hands in an attempt to break the fall).

Younger kids' bones are more likely to bend than break completely because they're more pliable. As kids get older, their bones mature, making them more likely to break completely.

The typical signs of a bone fracture are pain, swelling and deformity (which looks like a bump or change in shape of the bone or limb). No matter where the break is or how small it may seem, all broken bones need to be checked out by a doctor.

Types of bone fractures

There are several different types of bone fractures, which affect the way doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado will treat your child’s broken bone:

  • A buckle fracture is an incomplete break that happens in younger kids’ bones.
  • A complete fracture is when the bone has broken into two pieces.
  • A greenstick fracture is when the bone cracks on one side only, not all the way through.
  • A comminuted fracture is when the bone is broken into more than two pieces or crushed.
  • An open (or compound) fracture is when the bone is sticking through the skin.
  • A bowing fracture, which only happens in kids, is when the bone bends but doesn't break.

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