Broken Bones and Dislocations


Broken bones, or fractures, and dislocations both have to do with your child’s bones, but are different injuries.

There are two types of fractures: open, or compound, if the broken bone is exposed, and closed, or simple, if the skin remains intact. In children fractures typically occur in the wrist, forearm, or above the elbow. This injury can occur from sports injuries, falls, or other high-impact accidents. Aside from potentially visible deformity, your child may experience swelling, bruising, bleeding, pain, numbness, or limited to complete immobility of a limb.

Dislocations occur when the ends of two bones come apart. This injury is uncommon in young children and more common in teens. This injury results from extreme force being placed on the joint, potentially causing torn ligaments. Your child may feel pain or numbness and experience swelling, bruising, or trouble moving the joint normally.


For a fracture, your physician will assess your child’s injury to determine the most appropriate treatment. This involves a physical exam followed by an X-ray to determine the type and severity of the fracture. Most fractures require a cast to heal appropriately, though minor fractures may heal just fine with a splint. Recovery time ranges from 3 weeks to 6 months depending on the age of your child and the severity of the injury.

Most dislocations can be treated with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Dislocations in children will often reset themselves – in other cases, your child’s physician may have to manually reset the bones into place. If your child’s injury caused tearing of ligaments, surgery may be required.