What Is a Buckle Fracture?

When Bones Bend but Don't Completely Break

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A buckle fracture is a common injury in children. Kids have softer, more flexible bones than adults do. With a buckle fracture, one side of the bone "buckles" on itself and does not affect the other side of the bone. This is also called an incomplete fracture.

Falling on an outstretched hand is a common way that kids get buckle fractures. For example, if a child gets thrown off their bike or trips while running and breaks the fall with their hand, the force of landing on it can cause a buckle fracture.

This article will go over why children get buckle fractures. You'll also learn how buckle fractures in kids are diagnosed and treated.

symptoms of a buckle fracture in kids
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

What Are Buckle Fractures?

Buckle fractures are one of two common incomplete fractures that kids get.

  • Buckle fractures: Considered a "compression" injury because the side of the bone under compression crunches down on itself causing the bone to crumple on just one side.
  • Greenstick fractures: Considered a "tension" injury because the bone is pulled too far on one side. The bone on the greenstick side of the injury is pulled apart rather than being compressed on itself in a buckle fracture.

Buckle fractures do not happen to adults because adults' bones are less elastic than a child's.

A child's bone can withstand some deforming force, which is why "incomplete" fractures occur. An adult bone is more like a porcelain plate that cracks all the way through when it fails.

Buckle fractures are also called torus fractures. The word torus comes from the Latin word tori, meaning swelling or protuberance.

Signs and Symptoms of Buckle Fractures

The most common symptoms of a buckle fracture are pain and swelling. There is usually no actual deformity, but it may seem to be mishappened if there is a lot of swelling.

Other signs of a buckle fracture include:

  • Pain with pressure or movement
  • Bruising of the skin

How Buckle Fractures Are Diagnosed

A healthcare provider can diagnose a buckle fracture by looking at your child's injury, asking you about their symptoms, and identifying what they were doing when they got hurt. Your healthcare provider may also order medical imaging tests like X-rays.

How Buckle Fractures Are Treated

To treat a buckle fracture, you first need to ensure that the injured part of the body is not moved (immobilized) for about three or four weeks so it can heal. Buckle fractures do not require surgery.

Studies have compared casting to splinting for buckle fractures, and it appears that one treatment is not really any better than the other.

Here are some things to consider about a cast for a buckle fracture:

  • The advantage of a cast is that it protects the injured area very well. Kids wearing a cast seldom complain of pain, and the bone is well protected even when they're active.
  • Kids also cannot remove the cast, so there's no need to worry about them not sticking to the treatment until the end.

Here are some things to consider about a splint for a buckle fracture:

  • The advantage of a splint is that it is a simpler, more flexible treatment than a cast. Splints can be removed for bathing and washing, and caregivers can take off the splint themselves once healing is complete.
  • However, splints need to be worn to work. A downside of a splint treatment for a buckle fracture is that many children just take them off. Without the splint, a child may have pain.

Deciding on the best treatment for a buckle fracture depends on the injury, the comfort of the child, and how the caregiver feels about the options.

Buckle Fracture Recovery and Long-Term Effects

Buckle fractures tend to heal more quickly than greenstick fractures. That said, the success of the treatment does depend on how well a child is able to follow the plan until the injury has been allowed to heal.

For example, if your child plays sports they will need to wait until their provider gives them the "OK" to return to play. That might mean sitting on the bench for a few weeks while they are wearing a cast or a splint.

Most buckle fractures heal completely with no long-term problems. They are not linked to later joint or bone conditions like arthritis. Buckle fractures are not significantly displaced or are not growth plate fractures, so they won't affect on the long-term health of a child's bone.

Nearly all buckle fractures are normal childhood injuries, caused by normal childhood activities. They are not breaks that happen because of an underlying problem with a child's bones or disease.

However, if your child gets a buckle fracture with no known injury or they have more than one buckle fracture, that is something you would want to talk to a healthcare provider about. They might want to do some tests to check your child's bone and overall health.


A buckle fracture is a common injury in children. Most buckle fractures will get better as long as they are given time to heal. Your child may need to wear a cast or splint if they have a buckle fracture, but only for a few weeks. Buckle fractures do not require surgery.

Buckle fractures are not necessarily a sign that there is something wrong with your child's bone health and they don't typically lead to any long-term joint or bone problems.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.