Coastal Orthopedics: How To Treat Playground Injuries - Stamford Moms

While summer may be winding down, that doesn’t mean outdoor activities are ending anytime soon! Even in September, our kids will still be itching to play outside, whether its during recess at school or a neighborhood park on the weekends.

That means monkey bars, swimming pools, trampolines, skateboards and more. While these activities are loads of fun, they are also a common place for our kiddos to get hurt. 

Here are some classic playground injuries so you can know what to look out for in case your child takes a tumble.

Clavicle Fracture (Collar bone fracture)

What is it? A collar bone fracture, most often occurring in the middle of the collar bone.
How it happens: It usually happens after a fall landing directly on the side of the shoulder or a fall on an outstretched arm
How you can spot it: You may notice swelling or deformity and your child will not want to raise their arm overhead.
How can you treat it: The majority of clavicle fractures heal uneventfully with immobilization in a sling for several weeks. In rare cases, surgical fixation may be necessary to realign the fracture.


Supracondylar Fracture
What is it? The most common type of elbow fracture in kids, occurring in the humerus or upper arm bone just above the elbow.
How it happens: It usually results from falling on an outstretched arm – monkey bars are the classic culprit. You’ll most commonly see it in kids aged 5-7 years old.
How you can spot it: Your child will likely refuse to move their elbow and you may notice swelling around the elbow.
How can you treat it: Nondisplaced fractures usually heal uneventfully in a long arm cast for 4-6 weeks. However, displaced versions of this fracture require surgery. These can have serious complications including nerve and vascular injury as well as disturbances in proper growth and development.    

Nursemaid’s Elbow
What is it? Also known as a “pulled elbow” or “radial head subluxation”, this injury occurs when the child’s elbow is pulled and partially dislocated.
How it happens: This often happens if you are swinging your kids around by holding on to their hands or by pulling a child up by lifting them by their wrists or forearms. Because children’s bones & muscles are developing, it doesn’t take much force to partially dislocate a bone from the elbow joint.
How you can spot it: This occurs most commonly in kids 1-4 years old. Your child will refuse to move their elbow and usually hold the arm close to the body with the elbow bent and the palm facing the ground.
How can you treat it: This can be treated in the office by moving the elbow and forearm in a specific way to reduce or relocate the joint. It does not require anesthesia or medication. The child usually gets immediate relief once the joint is reduced and can use the arm within minutes after the reduction.

Toddler’s Fracture
What is it? Also known as a CAST fracture (Childhood Accidental Spiral Tibia fracture) is a spiral fracture in the shaft of the tibia or shin bone.
How it happens: It is caused by a low-energy trauma or fall where rotational force is placed on the tibia. On the playground, it can when a child goes down the slide on a parent’s lap and gets their foot gets caught on the side of the slide as the adult’s momentum keeps carrying them down.
How you can spot it: Most common in toddlers less than 3 years old. Your child will often refuse to bear weight through the injured leg. You may not notice swelling or deformity but it will be tender to touch along the shin bone
How can you treat it: These fractures usually heal uneventfully with immobilization in a cast for 3-4 weeks.

Close supervision and age appropriate equipment can help prevent falls and injuries. When possible, avoid playgrounds on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt. Check the hand grip for monkey bars or swinging activities to make sure they are not too slippery.

Unfortunately, many playground injuries are simple accidents and relatively unavoidable. We hope September finds you and your family healthy and on your feet, but if you find yourself on the losing end of the day at the playground, our team at Coastal Orthopedics is here to help! For more information, visit:

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