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Broken Foot in Children: 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 the type of fracture. 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.

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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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?

  • Be safe with medicines. 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.
  • Don't let your child put any weight on the injured foot. If you were given crutches, help your child 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.
  • If your child has a cast, follow the cast care instructions the doctor gives you.
  • If your child has a splint, leave the splint on until your child's follow-up appointment. Do not take it off unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Take care of the splint.
    • 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 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has chest pain, is short of breath, or coughs up blood.

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

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child's foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in his or her toes.
  • Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child has signs of a blood clot in his or her leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in his or her calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in his or her leg.

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

  • Your child has a problem with his or her splint or cast.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.