Greenstick fracture: bone fracture

A greenstick fracture is an incomplete bone fracture that mainly occurs in children. The periosteum is still intact. This rarely occurs in adults: the periosteum usually tears during a bone fracture. In children, however, the periosteum is tough and thick and the bone is still flexible. The result is the bending (giving) of the bone, which prevents the periosteum from tearing. Often a fracture or crack occurs on one side of the bone. The treatment is the same as for a normal bone fracture.

Cause of bone fracture

With a bone fracture, the bone is completely or partially torn. This can have two causes: external violence due to a fall, a blow or a bump or due to weakness of the bone such as osteoporosis (bone decalcification). In addition, a bone fracture can also occur due to long-term overload. Runners are especially sensitive to this. It cannot be said that elderly people break bones more often than children. However, elderly people break a bone more easily due to bone weakness. Children, on the other hand, more often break a bone during sports and games. Athletes are also more susceptible to bone fractures.

What is a greenstick fracture?

A bone fracture is also called a fracture. There are different types of fractures: not every fracture is the same. This is how we know crushing: a fracture in which three or more bone fragments (bone pieces) are created. With an open fracture, part of the bone protrudes through the skin. A closed or simple fracture is a fracture in which the skin is not damaged and the bone parts are still against each other.
A greenstick fracture is a completely different fracture. This is a bone fracture where the periosteum is still intact. The periosteum is the outer covering of the bone. The periosteum contains many blood vessels and nerve fibers. The periosteum is sensitive to pain and causes pain in the event of a bone fracture because the periosteum tears. With a greenstick fracture, the periosteum is still intact and the fracture surfaces have not shifted relative to each other.
A greenstick fracture also refers to an incomplete bone fracture. The bone is broken on one side. It should be seen as a twig (young branch of a tree) that is bent. There will eventually be a crack in the twig on one side while the other side is still intact. So the bone is not completely broken but partially. A greenstick fracture is also called a twig fracture.

Children have this more often

A greenstick fracture often occurs at the wrist and sometimes at the forearm, and is more common in children than in adults. This is because the periosteum in children is thick and tough, something that is usually no longer seen in adults. The bone is also more flexible in children, making it easier for a bone to bend rather than break completely.


When the periosteum is partially torn, an angle can develop between the bone pieces. This means that the bone must be set first. This is also called reduction. The bone pieces are pulled apart lengthwise. The broken parts are then placed properly opposite each other. Sometimes you have to pull quite hard when the muscles are very strong. This can be a painful affair. When the bone parts are in good position, this can be fixed by applying plaster. A plaster cast is worn for two to four weeks. In most cases, healing proceeds well, especially in children, a bone fracture heals quite quickly. If the bone parts are not properly positioned when the bone is set, a misalignment occurs because the bone parts grow at an angle to each other. Sometimes surgical intervention is necessary.
Wearing a sling or sling is not necessary during the cast period. When the fingers become very thick, wearing a sling may be useful. However, an attempt should be made to do this as little as possible so that the child carries the arm itself. It is important that the plaster does not get wet: this will cause it to become scalding, smelly and itchy. The child is also temporarily not allowed to play dangerous sports or games where the child could fall on the arm/wrist/hand. Once the cast has been removed, the doctor may sometimes recommend physical therapy. Sometimes the wrist or forearm looks thinner because the muscles shrink when they are not used for a while. This in itself is not serious: the muscles become thicker again as the arm is moved more.

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