Your Child's Recovery
Your doctor fixed your child's broken (fractured) bone without surgery. Your child's pain should get much better almost right after the procedure. But your child may have some bone pain or aching for 2 to 3 weeks.
How soon your child can return to a normal routine depends on how long it takes the bone to heal.
Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around your child.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Encourage your child to rest. Getting enough sleep will help your child recover.
- Increase your child's activity as recommended by the doctor. Being active boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. It is usually okay for your child to exercise other parts of the body as soon as your child feels well enough.
- Remind your child not to put weight on the broken bone until the doctor says it is okay.
- Your child can take showers or baths, but do not let your child get the cast wet. Tape a sheet of plastic to cover the cast so that it stays dry. It may help to have your child sit on a shower stool.
- Your child can eat a normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- 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 your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think pain medicine is making your child feel sick:
- Give the medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Ask the doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Have your child do exercises as instructed by the doctor or physical therapist. These exercises will help keep your child's muscles strong and joints flexible while the bone is healing.
- Ask your child to wiggle the fingers or toes on the injured arm or leg often. This helps reduce swelling and stiffness.
- Keep your child's cast dry.
- Use a sling to support your child's fractured limb, if the doctor tells you to.
- Do not stick objects such as pencils or coat hangers in your child's cast to scratch the skin.
- Do not put powder into your child's cast to relieve itchy skin.
- Never cut or alter your child's cast.
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 now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has new or worse pain.
- Your child's fingers or toes are cool or pale or change color.
- Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the fingers or toes.
- Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
- Your child has signs of a blood clot in the leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Swelling in the leg or groin.
- A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your child's usual skin color.
Watch closely for any changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your child has a problem with the splint or cast.
- Your child does not get better as expected.