Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is a buckle fracture?
This type of fracture is also known as a torus fracture. The side of your bones is affected but it does not completely break. The side just bends outward. Many times a greenstick fracture is compared to a buckle fracture but in a greenstick fracture one side of the bone breaks and the other side bends outward. The different is with a buckle fracture is that it does not bow out like a greenstick fracture does. This fracture is commonly seen in children because their bones are still developing. It is also one that is seen in the elderly because their bones break easier since bones become more fragile as a person ages.
Locations and Types
- Radius – this is common in children with about fifty percent of buckle fractures children receive being this type. When children run, play, or jump they usually have their arms stretched out and fall on their outstretched arms trying to break their fall.
- Ulna – in your forearm there are two bones, the ulna and the radius being the other. It is a common site for a buckle fracture in both children and the elderly.
- Wrist – it is a common fracture to happen in your wrist because when a person falls most will automatically stretch out their hands to try and catch themselves when they fall, causing their wrist to break. Approximately thirty percent of buckle fractures in children occur in the wrist.
- Finger – with a fractured finger it can prevent your range of motion, especially with fine motor movements. This is the least common and less serious type of buckle fractures.
- When moving the affected area there is an uncomfortable feeling
The main cause of having a buckle fracture is due to falling on their outstretched hand as they try to break their fall.
As with any type of fracture it is normally diagnosed by using x-rays. With an x-ray it enables the radiologist and physician to see the severity of the fracture. If after looking at an x-ray and they are not sure if you have a buckle fracture they may use other diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or MRI.
When a person has a buckle fracture there are three main ways you can treat it, which include:
- Managing your pain – when the fracture occurs you will immediately feel pain, which can be very uncomfortable. This is especially true in elderly patients and children. To manage the pain the physician will have you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID’s) medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can get these over-the-counter. If these do not work your physician may prescribe a medication that is a combination of acetaminophen and codeine.
- Immobilization – this means that you should not be able to move the area that is affected. It is important that it be immobilized because it will help to with the normal process of healing of the fractured bone. The bone will heal naturally over time but it is important that the bones be aligned correctly. The buckle fracture can be immobilized by splinting or casting.
- Surgery – in buckle fractures this method of treatment is usually not necessary as immobilization will commonly correct the problem. If it is a severe fracture doing surgery can be an option.
In most cases the orthopedic physician will opt to use casting in children because it is so easy to remove a splint, which can delay recovery. Some also feel that casting a buckle fracture will help to reduce the pain quicker.
When the treatment used is soft casting you need to make sure that you check the area at least once a day to make sure that the area is pink and warm to the touch, especially the fingers and toes. If the patient starts to experience numbness, tingling, or the toes and fingers are pale, blue, or cold you need to elevate the area above the level of their heart. If the symptoms continue after thirty minutes you should contact your orthopedic physician to let them know of these complications.
With a buckle fracture, it will normally hill within thirty days. When a buckle fracture is treated it is done using splints or a cast.