How to Care for Your Child with Supracondylar Fracture Type 1

This leaflet will provide you with information about Supracondylar Fracture causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and home care advices. 

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What is Supracondylar Fracture? 

A supracondylar fracture is a break in the bone right above the elbow. 

The supracondylar area is part of the humerus bone, which is in the humerus just above the elbow. The supracondylar area is thinner than the rest of the bone, so is more likely to break. 

This is the most common type of elbow fractures in children                        

What are the symptoms of Supracondylar Fracture?

Your child may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain, 
  • Swelling, 
  • Tenderness around the elbow. 
  • unable to move the injured elbow. 

If you think your child has broken an elbow, see a doctor right away.

How is Supracondylar Fracture diagnosed?

The doctor will ask few questions about your child health and examine your child and then order an X-ray to the injured elbow

How is Supracondylar Fracture treated? 

  • Your child will receive half cast. 
  • Your child’s healthcare provider will see your child within 1 week when the swelling goes down and will replace the half cast with a full cast.
  • Healing time varies, but a cast usually is worn for 3–4 weeks. 
  • You should accompany your child to attend a follow-up appointment as recommended.
  • Your child’s healthcare provider will see your child in 3 weeks for follow up appointment.

Home care advice  

  • To reduce swelling in the first 2 days:
    • Use pillows to raise the arm above heart level when your child is sitting down or sleeping.
    • Apply cold packs wrapped in a towel to the cast for 20–30 minutes every 3–4 hours for a few days. Do not put ice directly on the cast or splint because it must stay dry.
  • If your child’s doctor advises to give medicine for pain, you can give:
    • Paracetamol (any brand) or, Ibuprofen (any brand) 
    • Follow the instruction on the medicine package for the correct dose for your child
    • Do not give your child Aspirin as this can cause serious complications 
  • Make sure your child attends a follow-up appointment as recommended. 
  • Have your child avoid gym class, sports, and playground equipment and activities until you have been advised to do so.

Daily cast or splint care: 

  • Remind your child to wiggle the fingers to keep blood circulating normally. 
  • Check that the fingers have normal feeling, warmth, and color. 
  • Check the edges of the cast or splint
  • Make sure your child is not picking at or removing the padding from the edges. 
  • Make sure your child does not put toys, food, or other objects into it. 
  • Keep dirt, sand, lotion, and powder away from the cast or splint. 
  • Make sure that your child wears the sling when up and walking around. Do not let your child wear the sling while sleeping. 

Keep the cast dry: 

  • Avoid swimming. 
  • Give sponge baths to your child
  • Older kids should take baths instead of showers
  • Put a plastic protector over the arm when your child bathes. Put the arm up on something to keep the cast or splint completely out of the water.
  • If the cast or splint is accidentally splashed, gently blow air into it from a hair dryer on the cool setting. 
  • Problems to watch for: 
    • Itching: Tap lightly on the cast or use a hair dryer on the cool setting to blow air in and around the edges. Don't let your child scratch under the cast or splint or put anything into it. 
    • Swelling: If the fingers look puffy, raise the arm above the level of the heart for 1 hour. If the swelling doesn't get better, visit your doctor. 

When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical advice if:

  • The pain continues while your child is taking pain medicine. 
  • The pain becomes worse, especially when your child stretches out the fingers. 
  • Your child is fussy and cannot be calmed down (this could be due to pain). 
  • Your child's fingers stay swollen even after propping up the arm for 1 hour. 
  • Your child has a fever. 
  • The skin around the cast or splint looks red or raw. 
  • Your child's fingers tingle or become numb, blue, or pale. 
  • The cast or splint: 
    • Feels too tight or too loose
    • Becomes damaged, wet, or smelly o has something stuck inside it