Treating Broken Arms in Children

Call 911 if: 

  • The bone has broken through the skin.
  • The arm is bleeding heavily.
  • The arm is numb, white, or blue.
  • There is deformity to the arm.

As long as you get medical treatment right away, a broken arm usually heals well.

Call Doctor If:

You think your child has a broken arm. Symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, and refusal to move the arm.

1. Examine the Injury

  • Do not try to straighten the arm.
  • If the bone has broken through the skin, do not touch it. Drape gauze or a clean diaper over the injury, apply pressure to control the bleeding, and get emergency help.

2. Make a Splint

  • Don't try to straighten the arm. Try to keep it still and don't move it.
  • Put some soft padding around the arm, like a soft cloth.
  • Splint the wrapped arm with a ruler, newspaper, or magazine to keep it from moving too much.
  • Gently wrap cloth or tape around the splint and wrapping to hold them together.
  • Make sure the splint and wrapping aren't cutting off circulation.

3. Get Help

If your child may have a broken arm, go to the pediatrician's office or the emergency room.

4. Reduce Swelling and Pain

  • While waiting to see a doctor, put a wrapped ice pack or ice in a towel on the arm for a few minutes at a time.
  • If possible, keep your child's arm elevated.
  • Check with a doctor before using any pain reliever.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 22, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

HealthyChildren.org: "First Aid Guide." 

HealthyChildren.org: "Children and Broken Bones."

Eisenberg, A. What to Expect: The Toddler Years, Workman, 1996.

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