Buckle Fracture : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Buckle Fracture : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A buckle fracture is one of the common types of childhood injury which often children develop while playing or due to fall. However, the good news is that this fracture doesn’t cause major injury and it heals rapidly as children’s growth rate remains quite high naturally.

This fracture is also known as incomplete fracture because the break only happens on one side of the arm or leg’s long bone. When someone falls on their outstretched hand it leads to a slight compression either on one or both forearm bones. As the children’s bones are very soft in comparison to adults so, it doesn’t break completely.

The common symptoms of this type of injury include swelling, pain, and other discomforts. It is also known as torus fracture and children with less brittle and softer bones are more likely to develop this fracture.

Though this type of fracture doesn’t separate broken pieces of bone but it must not be overlooked. You should get necessary treatment for the same if your children have developed buckle fractures. Read this article till the end, to understand all vital aspects of this injury and learn the recovery tips to speed up the healing rate of the injured bone.

Symptoms

A buckle fracture is more common among children however it may also happen to an adult person. Once a person develops this fracture it immediately starts causing acute pain. Its common symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness. It is vital to keep the affected area well protected for the next few weeks so that it can heal properly.

If the injured limb remains well protected then the pain may disappear. One can keep the injured limb still via a splint and should raise it higher from the heart level as it reduces swelling. You should avoid applying heat to this area.

As its name defines, a buckle fracture denotes a stable fracture means the injured pieces of bones are not separated. This type of fracture is less painful in comparison to unstable fractures.

In the cases of serious level fracture, you will notice that your arm or leg has bent abnormally. If you suddenly notice any type of malformation in your arm or leg then most probably it indicates the occurrence of a buckle fracture. Also, the affected site swells and gets very tender to touch.

In the case of a child, if you notice that any injured area is tender to the touch then generally it indicates a fracture incident. For children, it takes approx 6 weeks time to heal this fracture whereas for adults it may take longer to heal completely.

In case you have developed a fracture in your forearm then you will feel difficulty while trying to turn your wrist or elbow. In the case of buckle fracture in the leg area, you will experience extreme pain which makes it simply impossible to put weight over it. However, one should avoid putting any weight on the injured bone as it can even break it making your symptoms worsen.

Any type of injury requires immediate treatment, so this rule applies with the buckle fracture as well. Especially if it has happened to a child then he or she should give fast treatment as their bones heal much faster than an adult person. Physical examination and X-ray tests are two common mediums to diagnose this injury.

Causes

Buckle fracture

A buckle fracture is one type of incomplete fracture as in this the affected bone doesn’t break completely. Greenstick fracture is another example of an incomplete fracture which occurs when a bone bends and cracks but doesn’t break totally. Just like the buckle fracture even greenstick fracture mostly affects children than adults.

Buckle fractures mostly happen due to a fall or due to a major impact or collision. Any injury that is capable enough to break the bone but doesn’t break the bone totally can lead to a broken arm or leg called buckle fracture. As the bones of children remain naturally softer and suppler, hence when they fall or jerk it can cause the affected bone to buckle rather than breaking.

Buckle fractures mostly occur while playing any sport or indulging in any physical activity such as tree climbing, bicycle riding, etc. Also, kids living in an unhealthy environment where child abuse is very common, contain the risk of developing this type of fracture.

Other factors that may lead to buckle fracture include trouble in balancing, weakness, lack of nutrition in the body, etc. In adults, osteoporosis, a bone health issue increases the affected person’s risk of developing buckle fracture.

Risk Factors

Children have the greater risk factor to develop buckle fracture very easily in comparison to adults. This is because their long bones or arms and legs have growth plates that are very soft. It contains very soft cartilage which converts into the solid bone with the progression of time or as the child grows up.

Children develop this injury usually in their arm or leg while playing or due to a fall. As their bones are softer and very much flexible so it bends rather than breaking, out of excess pressure.

Indulging in usual childhood days activities increases the risk of this type of fracture such as climbing on a tree, rough playing, running around, and even participation in a new sport.

Adults can also develop buckle fracture but it is not as common as among children. People with osteoporosis health condition have high-risk factor to develop buckle fracture. This is because this health issue makes their bones weaker and that tends to brittle easily. Also, the adults who participate in extreme sports contain the risk of buckle fracture.

Complications

You need to take care of some important points in order to avoid your risk of complications. For example, you should immediately notify your doctor if your cast is damaged or it gets very wet. The doctor will see the cast and will replace it with a fresh cast which is needed at this point.

While in your recovery period the doctor may ask you to take a few more x-ray tests to see whether the broken bone is lined up or not. If they see in the report that your bone is not healing properly then based on its condition they will schedule surgery to set the bone in the right way. However, this complication risk can be avoided by taking care of a few important guidance of the recovery period.

Diagnosis

The buckle fracture diagnosis is done at first through a physical examination of the affected area when you visit the doctor’s office. However, the depth of injury is clearly identified through the imaging tests like X-ray which is the most reliable way of diagnosing this type of injury.

In the case of a buckle fracture, you will see the skin is unbroken however, you will see that your arm or leg is bent abnormally. The affected bone bends out in the opposite direction from the breaking point.

Herein lies the difference between a greenstick fracture and a buckle fracture. In the case of a greenstick fracture, though a bone bends rather than breaks like a buckle fracture but it bends outward on the side of the break.

There are many types of fracture and each one of them has some common sign for recognition as well as some specific sign are there. In all types of fractures, an X-ray test is the most common way of diagnosis.

More than one x-ray may be required to see the appropriate view of the affected bone from different angles. Also, x-rays report aid in finding out whether any injury has happened to the nearby joints or not.

The X-ray report also helps in finding out the exact break location, size of the injury or fracture and also to see whether any growth plates at the end of the bones have been affected or not. To assess any potential nerve damage the doctor will check the sensation level in the hands and feet of the patient.

Treatment

Irrespective of your age group you should take necessary treatment as soon as it is possible to cure your buckle fracture. If any children have developed this fracture who are the most common victims then parents should ensure that their child gets appropriate treatment without any delay.

As the healing rate remains naturally high in children so their bones heal much faster with appropriate treatment in comparison to adults. In case of any suspected fracture, it must be evaluated right away.

The affected area such as the arm or leg needed to be kept in stabilized position as it aid in speedy healing. In this regard, a cast or removable splint helps in keeping the broken arm or leg in a stabilized position.

Splint and cast are the two most common ways of a buckle fracture treatment. A splint is put on at first and foremost that keeps the limb at its place in the initial few days until the swelling relieves. However, in the cases where there is no swelling or minimal level swelling then a cast is used immediately.

Once the swelling subsides, fiberglass or a plaster cast is put on. The softer inside layer of a cast gives protection to the skin and soft tissues whereas the hard layer holds on the bone at its place.

The cast sets the broken leg or arm in a fixed state which prevents the broken bone from moving which otherwise increases the risk of further injury. Apart from the cast, a removable splint is also helpful for keeping the bone immobilized.

However, the benefit of using a removable splint instead of a cast is that it can be removed easily while bathing or whenever any such necessity arises. In the case of children, it takes approx 3 to 6 weeks time in healing. However, this healing duration increases as the child ages. The healing duration remains much longer for an adult person.

In case of a bone injury that is bad enough that it couldn’t line up for proper healing then in such cases, surgery is required. Based on the deformity severity the treatment procedure is conducted under sedation or general anesthesia.

The bone is set in the right place through the surgical procedure which is the ultimate way of treatment. If surgery is conducted then it will take a further few more weeks in recovery.

Recovery Tips

In order to speed up your recovery duration, you must wear your cast or splint regularly for three weeks. However, if surgery is done then in that particular case few more weeks are required in the recovery.

If the buckle fracture has happened to the arm then the affected person may wear a sling while standing or walking. In case of buckle fracture in the leg area, it is vital that you avoid putting weight on it.

It needs complete rest for the first few days of this injury and the leg should be kept elevated for this duration. Avoid moving as much as possible as with a good amount of rest it will heal faster.

After few days of a leg injury, the patient needs crutches to move around. You may use a walking boot for walking as it keeps your leg safe and protected without restricting your mobility. Still walk only if it is very necessary.

After few weeks of rest in a cast or splint, you may start doing some of your activities not all. Ask your doctor while resuming your activities as they will give you the right guidance in this regard. Generally, the doctors recommend avoiding indulgence in high-risk activities like heavy sports, climbing, running, etc for the next several weeks.

Those who have developed simple buckle fractures are not required to be hospitalized. They may experience pain, swelling, and discomfort in the initial few days of this injury. This can be eliminated or reduced by elevating the injured limb and letting it rest on a pillow.

While the fractured bone is healing you need to take complete off from your school or office work. Give this time for complete rest so that you may recover faster. However, the exact duration of rest will depend on the location and severity of this fracture. It could be better guided by your healthcare provider.

Outlook

With timely and proper way of treatment, a buckle fracture heals very easily and speedily. However, to heal faster you need to limit your activities. As children are the common victims of this fracture so, they must be rightly guided by their parents so that they can go through its recovery period without getting panic. In the case of adults, they should take proper rest to avoid their risk of surgery.

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