Greenstick Fracture, Lower Extremity

Greenstick Fracture, Lower Extremity

Your child has a broken bone (fracture) in the leg. This is a very common fracture in children. Because of their softer bones, one side of the bone cracks, the other side only bends without any break (like snapping a green branch). It is also called an “incomplete” fracture for this reason.

If a greenstick fracture causes an angle in the position of the bone, the bone will need to be straightened (“reduced”) before applying a splint or cast. A splint or cast will be needed for at least 3 weeks. 

Home Care:

  1. Your child will be given a splint, cast, or special boot to prevent movement at the site of injury. Do not put weight on a splint; it will break. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding when to begin bearing weight on a cast or boot.

  2. Keep your child’s leg elevated when sitting or lying down. This is very important during the first 48 hours.

  3. Keep the cast/splint/boot completely dry at all times. When bathing, protect the cast/splint/boot with a large plastic bag, rubber-banded at the top end. If a boot/fiberglass cast/splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair-dryer.

  4. Apply an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) over the injured area for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours the first day. You can place the ice pack directly over the splint/cast. Continue with ice packs 3-4 times a day for the next two days, then as needed for the relief of pain and swelling.

  5. You may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. [NOTE: If your child has chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] Do not use ibuprofen in children under 6 months of age.

Follow Up

with your doctor in one week, or as advised by our staff, to be sure the bone is healing properly. If you were given a splint, it may be changed to a cast at your follow-up visit. There is a chance that a greenstick fracture will move out of place again during the first week before the ends begin to seal together. Therefore, it is important that you follow up as directed for another x-ray.

[NOTE: A radiologist will review any x-rays that were taken. We will notify you of any new findings that may affect your child’s care.]

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The fiberglass cast or splint remains wet for more than 24 hours

  • Increased tightness or pain under the cast or splint

  • Toes become swollen, cold, blue, numb or tingly