A fracture is a broken bone. Some fractures are caused by trauma, while others are caused by overuse.


Learn more about OIC’s expert pediatric fracture care at the Ahmanson Foundation Fracture Center.



There are a number of reasons why a fracture may occur. Some common ones include:

  • A tackle or collision while playing a contact sport like rugby or football
  • A fall
  • Overuse, such as overtraining in a sport


Signs & Symptoms

Common symptoms related to fractures are:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Inability to bear weight on a joint



There are many different types of fractures including:

  • Stable: Broken bones line up, with little displacement 
  • Open, Compound: Skin is punctured or pierced with visible bone
  • Transverse: Fracture is horizontal
  • Oblique: Fracture is angled
  • Comminuted: Bone has shattered
  • Stress Fracture: Bone has a small crack


To determine if your child has a fracture, our specialists may order imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI, ultrasound or computed tomography. 

Other tests might be used, too, like flexibility tests, stress tests, muscle tests and gait analysis. These additional tests will help our specialized team better understand your child’s condition, assess range of motion and identify abnormalities that might occur in bone alignment or muscle function.


Possible non-surgical treatments your doctor may offer or recommend to treat your child’s fracture include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Reduction (giving the child pain medication, then gently moving the bone into place)
  • Bracing or casting (following reduction)
  • Traction


At-Home Care

Common at-home treatment options for fractures include:

  • Icing the Area: Put ice packs wrapped in a towel or thin cloth on your child’s affected area for 20–30 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 2-3 days. If pain does not go away, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Elevating the Injured Limb: If your child has a broken leg, elevate it by placing it on a pillow when your child is lying down. Elevating it above the heart level can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Taking Non-Prescription Medication: Take a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Exercising: Your doctor may recommend doing exercises at home. These are designed to stretch the affected joint, maintain range of motion in the joint and strengthen your child’s joint.


When Will My Child Return to Play?

After your child has had an injury like a fracture, it’s normal to want to know how long the injury will take to heal and what you can expect.

Every child is unique, every injury is different. Your doctor will be able to give you guidelines as to when your child may be able to return to play, but in general the healing time for a fracture can be several weeks to several months depending on the location and severity of the injury and whether surgery is needed. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no way to speed up the process and trying to do so may make matters worse, and could make your child’s recovery take even longer.

The best thing you can do for your child is to make sure you consistently follow your doctor’s instructions, including doing at-home exercises regularly. When it is okay to do so, our doctors and staff will let you know when your child can return to play at a controlled level.


How to Prevent Fractures

  • Encourage weight-bearing exercises, like running or jumping rope, which strengthens bones
  • Make sure your child has and uses appropriate safety gear when participating in sports


See more information

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