Broken Hand in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A hand can break (fracture) during sports, a fall, or other activities. The break may happen when the hand twists, is hit, or is used to protect against a fall. Fractures can range from a small, hairline crack, to a bone or bones broken into two or more pieces. Your child's treatment depends on how bad the break is.

Your doctor may have put your child's hand in a brace, splint, or cast to allow it to heal or to keep it stable until your child sees another doctor. It may take weeks or months for your child's hand to heal. You can help it heal with some care at home.

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?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's hand 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). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's cast or splint. Keep the cast or splint dry.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Prop up the hand on pillows when your child sits or lies down in the first few days after the injury. Keep the hand higher than the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Help your child follow instructions for exercises to keep the arm strong.
  • Have your child wiggle the hand's uninjured fingers often to reduce swelling and stiffness.
  • Tell your child to not use the injured hand to grasp or carry anything.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has severe pain or increased pain.
  • Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child cannot move his or her fingers.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand and fingers.
  • Your child's hand or fingers are cool or pale or change colour.
  • Your child has a lot of swelling near the cast or splint.
  • The skin under your child's cast or splint burns or stings.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 27, 2016