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November 27, 2020

Explaining Greenstick Fractures

Greenstick fractures are most common in infants and children. Youthful bones are soft and somewhat flexible, and can bend before breaking. The name comes from an analogy: a green piece of wood will similarly bend before it cracks; unlike a dry, dead branch, which will snap in two under the same pressure. Greenstick fractures are sometimes called “willow breaks” for the same reason.

In a greenstick fracture, the bone bends and partially breaks. Often, the crack is difficult to see on an X-ray image. This can make diagnosing a greenstick fracture problematic. Pain, redness and swelling may indicate the injury, and the bent bone may be evident when X-ray images are taken from multiple angles.

Treatment and Recovery

If the bone is set and not re-injured, the victim of a greenstick fracture will usually recover fully, with no long-lasting effects. Depending on the location of the fracture, doctors may splint the injury or put a cast on the limb.