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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries


Injuries To Bone

Fractures in children are not uncommon and usually not serious. For instance, when children learn to walk, they fall frequently and can get the so-called ‘toddler fractures’. The child avoids putting weight on that leg and tends to limp. These fractures usually heal without any treatment. But if the symptoms persist for more than a day or two, you must see your doctor. Fortunately, most get better by restricting the movement of the part and surgery is rarely needed.

After an injury, the bone may not fracture right through. It may just bend and a crack may be noticed only on one side of the bone. If the bone breaks through the skin and comes out of the surface, it is termed an open fracture and needs much more careful handling.

Fractures affecting the growth plate at the end of the bones also need specialised treatment. Otherwise, the normal growth of that particular bone is affected.

MANAGEMENT: If you suspect a fracture (pain, local swelling and lack of movement of the affected limb), make a splint from a piece of wood or folded newspaper. Put it under the injured site to prevent movement. Use cold compresses on the site till your doctor sees the child.

If there is a possibility of a fracture affecting the spine or neck, do not move the child yourself. Let the doctor handle the case. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure on the wound (see Cuts).

The doctor may ask for an X-ray and decide to set the bone by manipulation (closed reduction) or by an operation (open reduction).

Pulled Elbow
Your child is walking by your side with your hand holding his. He suddenly decides to move away from you. You pull him forcefully towards you. He complains of pain near his elbow, which is slightly bent. Straightening the elbow causes more pain. This is the description of a pulled elbow. These children have a rather loose elbow joint. When you pulled him, the upper end of the bone nearer the arm was pulled towards you, creating a space between this bone and the other bones. The tissue nearby slid into this newly created space. When the pull is released, the bone goes back to its earlier position, the tissue gets trapped inside the joint and the child feels pain. 

TREATMENT: A doctor in a hospital’s casualty department can easily set it right to bring immediate relief from pain.

Sprains Affecting A Joint
The common example is a twisted ankle joint. The ligament holding the joints together is either stretched excessively or gets torn. Your child feels pain, refuses to walk and you notice swelling around the particular joint.

TREATMENT: As there could be an underlying fracture, a medical opinion is desirable. Keep the joint motionless while waiting for your doctor. If you have an elastic bandage, wrap it around the joint, but not too tight. Remove it for a while every 2 hours to make sure that blood flow is not obstructed.

For pain, you can give the child paracetamol or ibuprofen. Keep the joint raised and give cold compresses with crushed ice in a small hand towel or a piece of cloth. If you are unable to consult a doctor, apply cold compresses for about 20 minutes, once every hour, for a day or two. After a day or two, the swelling will become less or not increase any further. Then give hot compresses every 2 or 3 hours.

In case the child cannot move his toes or the foot appears limp, deep-seated serious injuries might have occurred. Urgent medical advice is needed.

Injury To The Tip Of The Finger Or Nail
This can be very painful and may even lead to a permanent deformity of the growing nail. The tip of the finger can get caught in the closing door of the car or at home. Sometimes, the injury is not severe and the child does not complain of much pain. There is not much swelling as well. Such cases can get better without any treatment. The problem arises if you notice swelling or blood under the nail. 

TREATMENT: Such a situation needs urgent medical attention. While waiting for your doctor, give cold compresses with crushed ice in a small hand towel or a piece of cloth. If ice is not available, take cold water and let the finger be dipped in it. If the skin is cut, wash it with soap and water and put sterile gauze (available in packets with your chemist) on it. If the finger is bleeding, a cold compress will help. Too much pressure to stop the bleeding should be avoided, as there may also be an underlying fracture. Keep the finger a little raised. 

The doctor will decide if there is a need to remove blood from under the nail by making a small hole in it. If he suspects a fracture, he will ask for an X-ray. Consulting an orthopaedic surgeon is essential if a fracture is confirmed or if there is damage to the nail bed, where nail growth takes place.

Injury To The Muscles
SYMPTOMS: Muscles are strained after sudden activity and exertion. Your child may complain of severe pain in one or more muscles. He may not be able to move the affected part, possibly because of bleeding within the muscle that makes it stiff.

TREATMENT: Raise that limb and gently massage it after applying hot compresses. In future, let him start an exercise to which he is unaccustomed gradually and do warm-ups before any active sport.

7 March, 2016

Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Calcium Deficiency
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Eye Problems
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Head Injury
Influenza (Flu)
Joint Disorders
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)

Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
Guide to Child Care
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand

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