Toddlers Do Break Bones

broken leg

There is no chance your toddler will never fall down. Luckily toddlers have supple bones which do not break easily. Even when they do break, they heal quickly.

Toddlers do not sprain ankles or other joints. A toddler will sustain a fracture, or a broken bone, before a sprain.

A “toddler's fracture” is an isolated fracture in the large bone of the lower leg, called the tibia.

If you see an accident, you will have an idea what your child may have injured. If you see any bones or joints out of position, lots of swelling, or your child is in severe distress, you need to get him or her immediate care. If it was a bad enough accident, you may even need to call 911. Obviously, more severe injuries occur in car accidents, falls from heights, or anything else where there is a big impact.

This is not what usually happens with an average fall. Usually your child will take a spill and start to cry. It is a misconception that a bone can only be broken if a child can't move an arm or leg. It is also a misconception that you will see something immediately. A bone can be broken and you may not see anything unless the bone is out of position.

A very common fracture in young children is just above the wrist, in the big forearm bone called the radius. When someone falls down and lands on an outstretched hand and arm, the radius can break. If it is broken badly due to significant force, it can be deformed, and you can likely see it is broken. But in toddlers you may not see anything. By some accounts, 40% to 50% of broken bones in children are near the end of the radius.

Children can have a “torus fracture” where the bone is more or less collapsed onto itself without a complete break. This is totally stable and heals well.

If you see any bones or joints out of position, lots of swelling, or your child is in severe distress, you need to get him or her immediate care.

 A greenstick fracture is a partial fracture which also heals well. With these types of fractures, there may not be any or much swelling or bruising. The child will not want to use his arm, and will have tenderness if you push on the area. But he will be able to move all his joints. These fractures still need casts, but sometimes for only three to four weeks.

A “toddler's fracture” is an isolated fracture in the large bone of the lower leg, called the tibia. It is also called a “childhood accidental spiral tibial fracture (CAST).” It usually happens when a child's foot gets caught while the child is falling, putting some torque on the leg. It is hard to see on X-ray and may not be diagnosed until a week or so later on a repeat X-ray, or with a bone scan.

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If no one saw the fall or injury, all you may know is that the child does not want to bear weight on the injured leg. There will be some tenderness and warmth over the area. Once diagnosed, the fracture means that the child needs a cast, which will only stay on for three to four weeks.

What do you think?

Toddlers Do Break Bones

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13 comments

  1. Cara says:

    Please explain the statement that “toddlers do not sprain ankles or other joints”
    Why would a toddler not get a sprain?

  2. mommy nhoj says:

    Ouch. I hope we won’t encounter any of these. Thanks for the info.

  3. Judy says:

    We took my granddaughter in to the ER today and found out that she has a fracture Left Distal Radius and a fracture Right Distal radius 6 weeks old. She is only 20 months old, and she plays and falls all the time.She never cried or complained about it. But the NP at the ER said that she can not break bones unless it is child abuse… That baby is the most loved baby in the world… But they called in CPS and now we are going through heck.. over this NP not doing any research on this matter…..She is going to the bone specialist in the morning, and we find out what he has to say.

    • Leah says:

      We took my son in to the ER because he wouldn’t move his arm without crying and found out his radial head in his elbow was dislocated. At first doctors said it was fractured and they put a full arm cast on him, called cps, questioned us, and said it was child abuse/neglect. 10 days later we go in for a check up and find out he has a buckle fracture in his ankle. Doctors say they “might see something else” and that “the something else is suspicious for child abuse” so they admitted my son and took both my 3 year old and my 13 month old away. Never had anything prior to this, never even knew he had a fracture. He was walking and climbing around like normal. My son is so much more curious than my daughter was at his age, he could of fell the wrong way or maybe it happened in our bounce house or maybe even at the park on the jungle gym. We have met with a bone specialist and he told us that after reviewing my sons X-rays it appears that his arm “fracture” had no signs of healing so therefore he never had a fracture in his arm and as far as his ankle, it was a buckle fracture and thats ALL that it was. We are also working with a doctor from the CARE center at the same hospital and he won’t stop pushing abuse on us. He is basically saying the bone specialist has a different job and they are just not looking at the same thing.. how does that make any sense? My son is NOT abused and my babies should be home. These doctors are ridiculous when it comes to the welfare of a child and CPS doesn’t try to keep families together, they TORE mine apart and seem to want to make sure it stays that way.

  4. Edith says:

    My lg fell of the chair normally the dog lies between the chair and settee but the one time he wasnt there she fell her arm was red she cried but stopped an fell asleep then woke up screaming we rushee up to a/e the drs asked wat she pulled by the arms I said no as she was only 22 months made me feel guilty it was above her elbow stuck a plaster on it then had to attend fracture clinic

  5. Grace says:

    i had no idea about most of this, mainly because i never broke a bone as a child, early adult life i think i broke my ankles

  6. jesster131 says:

    Then you have me. At 18 months I climbed out of my crib & dropped to the floor no problem. I headed for the stairs to go join the rest of the family on the 1st floor. That didn’t go so well. I fell down the stairs & broke my collar bone in multiple places. The DR in the ER didn’t even want to X-ray it as I was using the arm just fine. When mom insisted they were surprised by the breaks. It all healed well just a little stiffness when it’s cold now. My son is like me a climber.

  7. ale says:

    Thank god my kids havent broken any bones. I would hate to see them in pain.

  8. Anjee says:

    My poor lil boy fell off the bed & broke his wrist, exactly like the greenstick paragraph 🙁 so heartbroken for him!!!!!

  9. I have a friend who is terrified of spiders and of course her 3 year old son was right behind her when she seen one and freaked out, She took a step backward right over him and broke his leg!

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