Broken Foot in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Broken foot

A broken foot, or foot fracture, is a break in one or more of the bones in the foot. It may happen because of a sports injury or a fall. A compound, or open, fracture occurs when a bone breaks through the skin. A break that does not poke through the skin is a closed fracture. Your child's treatment depends on the location and type of break in his or her foot.

Your child may need a splint, a cast, or an orthopedic shoe. Certain kinds of injuries may need surgery at some time. Whatever your child's treatment, you can ease symptoms and help the foot heal with care at home. Your child may need 6 to 8 weeks or more to fully heal.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around him or her.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Leave the splint on until your child's follow-up appointment. Your child should not put any weight on the injured foot. If your child was given crutches, help him or her use them as directed.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's foot for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up the sore foot on a pillow anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Follow the cast care instructions the doctor gives you. If your child has a splint, do not take it off unless the doctor tells you to.

Cast and splint care

  • If your child has a removable splint, ask the doctor if it is okay to remove it to bathe. The doctor may want your child to keep it on as much as possible.
  • Keep a plaster splint covered by taping a sheet of plastic around it when your child bathes. Water under the plaster can cause the skin to itch and hurt.
  • Never cut your child's splint.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has increased or severe pain.
  • Your child's toes are cool or pale or change colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the foot.
  • Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child cannot move his or her toes.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's pain is not better in 2 to 3 days.

Where can you learn more?

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