Parenting 101: Broken Bones Aren’t Always Obvious!

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Manic:  My daughter breaking her arm, which was not supposed to be a part of her summer break plus the fact that this particular injury didn’t present at all as a Mom would expect, which just about threw me off! Cast

Managed:  Listened to that inner voice I call the Mom gut voice and decided to get a 4th (yes I said FOURTH) opinion to answer the puzzling question of is it broke or not?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it they say….but if it is…well I need to know that without question so we can fix it.  Why was this so confusing and what happened? The good news is that the story is short.  The bad news is that she did indeed break her elbow. And this is news that you should read about so if this puzzling type of injury happens to your kid or to you, you may remember our little story and get a 1st, 2nd, 3rd…and finally 4th opinion!

Surprise #1 – The injury didn’t hurt that bad. 

Three days ago it was my teen daughter versus the trampoline on her 4th front flip.  The trampoline trampled her arm when she landed squarely on her elbow and not on her feet.  Here is another big surprise….

Surprise #2 – I didn’t even know about it until hours later.  

She was at a fun cheer camp so I didn’t know about this crash landing until several hours later since I wasn’t there during the fall.  So she casually mentions the crash landing to me, and as we parents do, I proceeded to look at her arm and quiz her on pain level, movement and motion.

Surprise #3 – No swelling or bruising to be seen.

Her arm looked fine with no swelling and no brusing.  At this point she tells me that it doesn’t hurt that bad. She can do all of the range of movement tests that I instruct her to try.  She can freely move her arm, wiggle her fingers and more.  We even call her Daddy at work so he can quiz her over the phone.  We both agree to keep a watchful eye on her since she is showing no signs of a break…so we thought.

Surprise #4 – Hours later when she becomes grumpy it takes me a minute to realize that this isn’t typical teenage grump mood, but she is actually…all of a sudden in a good amount of pain.  

Oh no, I think to myself.  I should have had her checked out earlier in the day, but she didn’t show any physical signs of trauma to her arm.  So off to Urgent Care we go.

Surprise #5 – Two urgent care doctors THINK they see a fracture, but are so unsure that they send the Xrays to the hospital to be evaluated.  1st day

So she gets it wrapped in a sling and off we go to wait for the hospital to give us their report.  Of course, it is Friday night by this point, so we have to wait the weekend.

Surprise #6 – She hasn’t cried one tear at all.  Not when she had the initial injury and not at the exams.  

In good spirits with her buddy.

In good spirits with her buddy.

So if your kid ever injures a bone, but doesn’t cry, don’t assume that the bones aren’t broke.

Surprise #7 – The hospital says that the bone isn’t fractured, so I’m left wondering why we have conflicting opinions from three different doctors who reviewed the Xrays.

With that I am reminded of years before when my son broke his wrist playing hockey and I learned about the importance of growth plates and how a broken bone can throw off those important growth plates.  After all a lot of growing happens in the teen years.  It is almost like a magic trick just how much they grow and change from 12 to 18…and I know this first hand because I’ve got a 13 year old and a 17 year old.

So with that, I decided to go and see the orthopedic surgeon who took great care of our son during his past injuries over the years.  (Knocking on wood that our son is done there).

I called this morning, right when they opened and they fit us in at 3pm.  Urgent care was thoughtful to have given me a CD of the Xray so I had that on hand to show the doctor.  When they decided to take two more Xrays, I had a feeling that a cast was coming.

Surprise #8 – It is indeed broken and with fluid build up! 

Sure enough they found fluid in her elbow joint and a small tear, worthy enough to be called a small fracture. Small, but with the growth plate importance, a cast had to be fitted on her full arm.  image (92)Darn!  But there is good news…

Surprise #9 – She only has to wear it for three weeks!  

So you never know.  What seemed to be a small fall on a padded trampoline with not a lot of pain, no visible swelling or bruising turned out to be an elbow break.  Elbows are tricky, I learned.  That is why we had to seek FOUR opinions.

She has been in great spirits about it, even remarking that if this had to happen, it is perfectly timed since she just wrapped her summer musical and is out of school.  And that brings me to….

Surprise #10 – Her positive and thankful outlook about the entire crappy cast situation. Looking on the bright side, she told me that the cast only has to be worn for three weeks and that it is her left hand, which is good since she is right handed.  Granted that today is only day 1 of this pesky cast wearing and she will have hot and itchy days to contend with, but we both put it down as another milestone of her teenage years since this is her first cast…and hopefully her last.  We also like the color she chose…Cast

And she tells me that she would do it all again on that trampoline because the joy of landing her front flip the first three times was amazing to her, even if the 4th sent her Mama to get 4 opinions.

Yep, always go with that Mama (or Dad) gut voice.  We have that little instinctive voice about our kids built into our hearts and heads for a reason.






  1. Maryanne Mildner says:

    I enjoyed your report about Alexis’s experience on the trampoline and how what seemed to be a minor accident proved to be much more serious. You went with your gut and got her to the right specialist. Thanks for sharing. I like the turquoise cast. I think that was the color…very pretty