Definition

What is a greenstick fracture?

A greenstick fracture occurs when a bone bends and breaks, but doesn’t break into two separate pieces. It’s called by this name because it looks similar to what happens when you try to break a “green” branch from a tree. It also goes by the term “partial fracture.”

How common are greenstick fractures?

Most greenstick fractures occur in children younger than 10 years of age. This type of broken bone most commonly occurs in children because their bones are softer and more flexible than are the bones of adults. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a greenstick fracture?

The symptoms of a greenstick fracture vary depending on the severity of the fracture. You may only develop a bruise or general tenderness in more mild fractures.

In other cases, there might be an obvious bend in the limb or fractured area, accompanied by swelling and pain.

Symptoms also depend on the location of the injury. For example, if the injury occurs in your finger, you might not be able to move the finger for a period of time. Alternatively, a fracture in your arm might be painful with swelling and tenderness while you maintain mobility.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes a greenstick fracture?

The most common cause of a greenstick fracture is a fall. Most children develop greenstick fractures in their arms, because they try to catch themselves as they fall.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for a greenstick fracture?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is a greenstick fracture diagnosed?

During the physical exam, your doctor will inspect the affected area for tenderness, swelling, deformity, numbness or an open wound. Your child may be asked to move his or her fingers into certain patterns or motions to check for nerve damage. Your doctor may also examine the joints above and below the fracture.

X-rays can reveal most greenstick fractures. Your doctor may want to take X-rays of the uninjured limb, for comparison purposes.

How is a greenstick fracture treated?

Depending on the severity of the greenstick fracture, the doctor may need to straighten the bone manually so it will heal properly. Your child will receive pain medication and possibly sedation drugs for this procedure.

Greenstick fractures have a high risk of breaking completely through the bone, so most of these types of fractures are immobilized in a cast during healing.

On occasion, your doctor may decide that a removable splint could work just as well, particularly if the break is mostly healed. The benefit of a splint is that your child might be able to take it off briefly for a bath or shower.

X-rays are required in a few weeks to make sure the fracture is healing properly, to check the alignment of the bone, and to determine when a cast is no longer needed. Most greenstick fractures require four to eight weeks for complete healing, depending on the break and the age of the child.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage greenstick fracture?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: December 27, 2017 | Last Modified: December 27, 2017

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