What is a greenstick fracture?

A greenstick fracture is a crack or break on one side of a long bone in the arm or leg. The crack or break does not extend all the way through the bone. It is named for the way a fresh green twig behaves when bent.

Who is most at risk for greenstick fractures?

Children are more likely to have greenstick fractures because their bones are softer and less brittle than an adult’s.

How common are greenstick fractures?

Greenstick fractures are very common. In the United States, millions of children are affected each year. A greenstick fracture often occurs when a child falls and tries to break the fall with his or her arms.

What causes greenstick fractures?

Greenstick fractures result from the bending of a bone. Any force that bends a long bone, such as an arm or leg bone, without fully breaking it can cause a greenstick fracture. Instead of snapping into two pieces, the bone cracks on one side.

Greenstick fractures can be caused by many things, including participation in sports, motor vehicle accidents and falls.

What are the symptoms of greenstick fractures?

The symptoms of a greenstick fracture depend on the severity of the crack. Symptoms of greenstick fractures include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Deformity (a bending or twisting) of the affected body part

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