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Buckle Fracture

This xray is of John, my grandson. He is a 13 year old boy. He was running and fell on his left arm. It hurt too much at the wrist to continue running and he was brought to the Emergency Room by his parents. These xrays were obtained.

The fracture is indicated by the red arrows.

There is only a small bending of the cortex (outer part) of the bone. This is a close-up view of the wrist area. The large bone on the left is called the radius, the other bone is called the ulna.

This fracture is called a buckle fracture or a greenstick fracture. The bones of children are still growing and are not as brittle as the bones of adults. When the bones of a child are stressed more than they can tolerate, they can buckle (which means bend) or deform like a green stick. In addition, the layer of soft tissue over the bone, called the periosteum (which means the "tissue around the bone"), is quite thick and strong. This is usually not torn and holds the bones in place.

If a buckle fracture of the radius has only a little bend (depending on age, 10 to 20 degrees), it does not need to be reduced (bent back straight). If it does need to be straightened, it can be a bit difficult, due to the strong periosteum. In this case, the bone is not very bent. John just needed a cast.

Buckle fractures usually heal very quickly and very nicely. There is rarely any problem with healing and the children can do all the things they did before. A cast or splint is usually needed for about six weeks.