This Halloween, as my very own Angry Birds head out into the neighborhood, I know their costumes are fireproof (those jack-o-lanterns can get too close), their headpieces are appropriately sized and their shoes are manageable. Why so much prep?
Falls are the leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. The hazards are endless—from tripping on costumes to lawn obstacles like branches, hoses and even the occasional gnome! And here’s the other issue: Kids’ bodies (and bones) are growing, which can put them off balance. Some might call it the “clumsy” stage.
Back to the bones of this post: If you or your child have ever taken a fall, you know that one of your first thoughts is, “Is anything broken?”
An X-ray test is the way to tell. But how, as a parent, can you get an idea if the injury warrants a visit to the doctor? If your child experiences pain and you can answer “yes” to any of the items below, you should go see your pediatrician, visit an urgent care center or, if the injury is severe, go to the emergency department.
- Deformity—Is there a bone sticking out or does the body part “bend” where it shouldn’t? (The most common fracture in kids is called Greenstick where one side of the bone breaks and the other side bends.)
- Swelling—Is the body area increasing in size and becoming hard? (This can also mean dislocation, which is worth a trip to the doctor as well.)
- Bruising—Does bruising encompass the area and does it appear quickly after the accident?
- Crepitus—Do you or your child feel “crunchy” when you move that body area? (It could be broken bone rubbing together.)
Here’s the thing. As an orthopaedic surgeon, I can tell you it is important that the break and treatment plan are accurately assessed. For example, if a fracture occurs on a growth plate, the areas of developing cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones, it can actually stunt growth. It needs to be cared for and reviewed as it heals.
The good news is that this Halloween (and throughout the year), your little Batman, Wonder Woman or Hulk is, in fact, a superhealer. Most children heal faster than adults because they have strong immune systems. A bone fracture that requires surgery in an adult may only require a cast in a child.
Have a safe Halloween.