Greenstick & Buckle Fracture
What is a Greenstick Fracture?
Greenstick fractures get their name from the analogy of a green (new/young) piece of wood breaking. A greenstick fracture occurs when a bone bends to its limit and then one part of the outside layer cracks (but doesn’t technically break). This crack is only partially through the bone and is considered less severe than a complete break (where there is a clear break right through the width of the bone). A greenstick fracture is an injury commonly seen in kids who have young/soft bone.
What is a Buckle Fracture?
A buckle fracture results from a compression force when the pressure/force causes the outer layers to fail and fold in on themselves creating a bump. Buckle fractures are sometimes called Torus fractures because this bump along the shaft of the bone resembles the shape of the columns of buildings. Again, this mainly involves the outer layers of bone and is also considered less severe than a full break.
Why do These Fractures Only Happen in Children’s Bones?
These types of fractures normally occur in children or young adults. A growing skeleton is slightly less rigid than an adults and therefore tends to have a bit more give (flex) which leads to different fracture patterning to adults. This is a really good thing and a perfectly normal part of development. They are designed that way to accommodate the continual growth of children and adolescents and the types of strain their bones are subject to. Despite their flexible nature the developing bones are still very strong and it takes a lot of force to injure them. When we get to our 20’s our bones are finished growing and therefore are more rigid and don’t allow as much bend (flex) as a child’s bone.
How do greenstick & buckle fractures happen?
Greenstick and buckle fractures can both occur in the same way as they are quite similar types of injuries. The most common mechanism of injury is a fall, particular onto an outstretched hand. However, there are many different ways this injury can occur. Basically, whenever there is an impact injury with significant forces (such as falling, landing awkwardly from a jump/height) involved there is a potential for one of these less severe fractures to occur.
How is it diagnosed?
Your Physiotherapist will perform a detailed interview and physical assessment and from there they will develop a working diagnosis which may include bone and soft tissue injuries. Sometimes it is obvious this type of injury has occurred but regardless they will arrange an Xray which will help confirm this type of injury.
Treatment for Greenstick & Buckle Fracture
The key to getting a good result after a distal radius fracture (or any other fracture) and returning to full function is early management. Activate Physiotherapy offer same day appointments to attend their fracture clinic to ensure your distal radius fracture is managed with the best management from the start.
The treatment is specific to each person, injury type and its location in the body. The great news is that the majority of greenstick and buckle fractures are able to be managed conservatively. The first line of treatment will be protecting the fracture site while it is healing. This may involve the use of a brace/splint depending on what fracture you have and in which bone. If a brace is needed, Activate Physiotherapy will fit you with one on the same day. Braces/splints work by protecting your fracture by keeping it in a stable position. Your physiotherapist will advise you on the appropriate length of time specific to the nature and severity of your injury.
In addition to a protective brace as required immediate management involves:
- Elevation, and
- Referral for imaging
Our approach is unique and our physiotherapists understand the importance of integrating your rehab during the healing process and will assist you with a rehabilitation program at the various stages of your healing journey. This reduces the complications that often occur from wrist fractures.
When healing is finished your muscles will be weaker because they haven’t been used as much. Your physiotherapist can assess your strength levels and give you exercises to strengthen your muscles and get them back to normal. It is important to tell your Physiotherapist about any specific goals or sports you may have so they can make your exercises specific to your needs.
Green stick and buckle fractures will heal a bit quicker than the more severe fractures. Normally buckles will heal within 3-4 weeks and greenstick within 4-6 weeks. Following this a period of exercise training is needed to return your injured area to full function. Most if not all patients with uncomplicated green stick or buckle fractures make a full recovery in approximately 6-8 weeks.
How to Make a Fracture Clinic Appointment
No Xray? No problem!
We can arrange bulk-billed xrays to confirm diagnosis and monitor healing.
Need your cast removed?
We can help with that too! We are able to remove backslabs and full plaster or polyester casts