Diagnosing Broken Bones
What’s a quick test to tell if one of my kids has broken a bone?
Even doctors can’t always tell between a broken bone and a sprain until it’s been x-rayed. But your child will give you a clue through body language. Children tend to hold broken arms and legs, and will refuse to move anything that gives them pain. You’ll also see unusual bending and significant swelling around a broken bone.
If not, ask your child if she can walk on the damaged body part or move it around. When a child can run around or bear weight on an injured leg, it’s probably not broken. Same with an arm or shoulder: If she can pick up things without much discomfort, it’s probably not broken.
Of course, if a bone is sticking through the skin, it’s broken. Don’t poke it back in … just leave it alone and get to the emergency room as quickly as you can.