Broken Lower Leg in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Lower leg fracture

Treatment for your child's broken leg will depend on how bad the break is. Your doctor may have put the lower leg in a splint or a cast to allow it to heal or keep it stable until your child sees another doctor. It may take weeks or months for your child's leg 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 lower leg 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.
  • Help your child keep all weight off of the leg unless the doctor tells you not to. Your child will use crutches to walk.
  • Prop up your child's leg on pillows when he or she sits or lies down in the first few days after the injury. Keep the leg higher than the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Help your child follow instructions for exercises to keep the leg strong.
  • Have your child wiggle his or her toes often to reduce swelling and stiffness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or your child coughs up blood.

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

  • Your child has increased or severe pain.
  • Your child's foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the toes.
  • Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child cannot move his or her toes.
  • Your child has signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the leg or groin.
  • The skin under the 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