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While the most common treatment of a buckle fracture, also known as a torus fracture, involves placing a cast on the the injured bone, some doctors feel that minor wrist fractures of this type can be effectively treated with splints. As children are among the most common victims of buckle fractures, critics of the splint alternative point out that children can easily remove a splint, thereby delaying recovery. Some orthopedists feel that a cast also helps reduce pain more quickly than a splint.
Treatment of a buckle fracture begins by dealing with the patient's pain using analgesics, sedatives, or other medications. Diagnosis usually entails an x-ray of the injured area which should reveal an incomplete fracture where one side of the bone has become compressed or "buckled." A buckle fracture should not be confused with a greenstick fracture, where one side of the bone has completely broken while the other side has become bent. This condition is most commonly seen in children whose bones are more flexible.
A soft cast is usually chosen in treating a buckle fracture and remains in place for three weeks or more depending on how quickly the bone heals. During summer months, a waterproof cast may be employed, allowing the patient to shower, bathe, or swim. The doctor will often prescribe pain medication to be taken on an as-needed basis. Follow-up x-rays may be ordered by the doctor to monitor the progress of the healing bone. Although uncommon in children, physical therapy may be ordered in the latter stages of recovery.
Before discharge, the patient is usually counseled to rest the injury as much as possible, and ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or acetaminophen with codeine elixir are often prescribed to manage pain. The patient is advised to contact the doctor if he or she experiences numbness; cold, pale or blue extremities; or tingling. Toes and fingers should remain pink and be warm to the touch. If these symptoms arise, the patient is advised to raise the injured part above the level of the heart using a pillow or bolster. Should the symptoms continue after a half-an-hour of elevation, the patient is usually asked to come to the doctor's office for further evaluation.
Other advice given to buckle-fracture patients includes keeping the cast dry unless it is waterproof, avoiding insertion of objects under the cast, and avoiding walking on an injured leg until approved by the doctor. Doctors often recommend using a hair dryer placed on a cool setting to help deal with itching. Upon removal of the cast, the patient might experience joint pain for which exercise or physical therapy is usually recommended.
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