What Is a Greenstick Fracture?

Falling is a common cause of a greenstick fracture.
Blunt trauma may cause a greenstick fracture.
Doctors usually put greenstick fractures in a cast to immobilize the bone.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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A greenstick fracture is a type of mild bone fracture which is most commonly seen in children. In this type of fracture, extreme force causes a bone to bend, breaking partway through, much like a green twig when it is bent. The prognosis for this type of fracture is generally good, with some greenstick fractures healing in as little as three weeks when they are promptly diagnosed and treated. Many children break a limb at some point due to their active lives, and a greenstick break is typically nothing to be concerned about, although it does require medical treatment.

A common cause of a greenstick fracture is a fall, as falls can cause a bone to bend further than it is able too. Blunt trauma such as a blow can also cause such a fracture. The name "greenstick" really is apt, because the best illustration of this fracture involves picking up a young twig and bending it; part of the twig breaks, generally not very cleanly, while the other side stays whole, although it may be stressed from the bending process.

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Treating a greenstick fracture requires reducing the fracture, typically by pulling the bone apart slightly and then pushing it into place to straighten it out. To ensure that the fracture heals, the doctor will put the affected limb into a cast, immobilizing it so that the bone can grow back. Healing times for fractures of this kind are often very quick, and these fractures are typically not as painful as some other types of fractures, especially once the fracture has been reduced. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to bring down swelling at the fracture site.

The main risk of a greenstick fracture is that it could go undiagnosed. It is often possible to put weight on the limb, for example, although it may be painful, and the fracture may be dismissed as a simple hard blow, resulting in some swelling but no lasting damage. If a child falls or takes a serious blow and complains of pain which seems a bit extreme, he or she should be taken to the hospital to rule a greenstick fracture out, especially if the area of the injury swells rapidly. Failure to treat the fracture could result in a very painful infection and permanent damage to the site.

Most greenstick fractures heal completely after being reduced and placed into a cast. In some instances, however, the fracture will not heal properly, requiring surgery. This is extremely rare, especially when the fracture is addressed as quickly as possible and weight is kept off the bone while it heals.

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anon266296
Post 4

My daughter has a greenstick fracture but was on the mend soon. She has a cast and is doing OK.

anon138990
Post 3

My six months old baby just had greenstick fracture, and he has been treated with a cast now. just wanted to know how long will it take to heal.

SmileRanga
Post 2

My name is Georgia. I have a greenstick fracture but it is very mild. My fracture hasn't stopped me from doing anything. I have only had the cast on for a week today and I have had enough of it already.

I am going to Dream World on Thursday with school and I want to go on some rides but I am not sure.

My hand doesn't even hurt much -- only a little. What would you do in my position? P.S. This is going to be my first time going to Dream World.

desertdunes
Post 1

Greenstick fractures also happen to seniors. Although I'm not sure why considering that our bones get more brittle as we get older. That alone would seem to rule out seniors getting this type of fracture. But it does happen!

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