A fracture is a break in a bone. These can vary from simple minor fractures to more complex ones. Your child has a simple fracture in their toe or finger, which should heal with no further issues.
The affected finger or toe will be immobilised by wrapping it and the uninjured finger or toe beside with cotton gauze and tape – this is called
‘buddy strapping’. This aims to reduce discomfort but leave the joints free enough to allow gentle movements as pain allows. This should be worn at all times for three weeks.
For the first few days your child may experience discomfort. Pain-relieving medications such as Panadol and Nurofen should be given regularly for the first few days and can then be reduced as pain settles.
The affected limb should be elevated for the first two to three days, ideally above the level of the heart as guided by your child’s health professional. This can also be achieved through the use of a sling for the first few days. You may also use ice but be sure to cover it and only use for 10 – 15 minutes at a time, every one to two hours to prevent skin damage.
When to seek help
Your child should be reviewed by a doctor or nurse practitioner if:
- Your child continues to have pain despite pain relief or has increasing pain.
- The foot becomes more swollen
- You are concerned for any reason.
Care at home and follow-up
A fracture generally takes three to four weeks to heal depending on your child’s age. Once comfortable your child may return to sports such as swimming. Contact sports should be avoided for six to eight weeks (or as instructed) after immobilisation tape is removed to reduce chance of re-fracture.
In the majority of cases no further follow-up or X-rays are needed as the majority of these fractures are undisplaced.
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 1, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
In an emergency, always call 000.
If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.