Understanding Buckle Fractures in Children

When Bones Bend but Don't Completely Break

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A buckle fracture, also called a torus fracture, is an extremely common injury seen in children. Because children have softer, more flexible bones, one side of the bone may buckle upon itself without disrupting the other side of the bone—also known as an incomplete fracture—and cause symptoms.

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


There are two common types of incomplete fractures that occur in children:

  • Buckle fractures: These injuries occur when the bone compresses and is therefore considered a "compression" injury. The side of the bone under compression crunches down upon itself causing the bone to crumple on just one side of the bone.
  • Greenstick fractures: These fractures are injuries that occur when the bone is pulled too far on one side of the bone—a "tension" injury. The bone on the greenstick side of the injury is pulled apart (as opposed to being compressed upon itself).

Buckle fractures don't occur in adults because the adult bone is less elastic. A child's bone can withstand some deforming force, and therefore these incomplete fractures can occur. Adult bone is more like a porcelain plate that when it fails it cracks all the way through.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a buckle fracture are pain and swelling. Seldom is there any actual deformity, although if there is a lot of swelling the extremity may look slightly deformed.

The word torus is derived from the Latin word tori, meaning swelling or protuberance. Children commonly sustain this injury by falling on an outstretched hand.

Other signs of a buckle fracture may include:

  • Pain with pressure or movement
  • Bruising of the skin


Treatment of a buckle fracture is accomplished by immobilizing the injury for a short duration, usually about three or four weeks. These injuries tend to heal more quickly than the similar greenstick fractures. There have been many studies comparing casting versus splinting for buckle fractures. The common conclusion is neither treatment is better.

The advantage of a cast is that it protects the injured area very well. Kids wearing a cast seldom complain of pain, and even when active the bone is well protected. Kids can't remove the cast, and therefore parents don't need to worry about their child being compliant with the recommended treatment.

The advantage of a splint is that it is a simpler, more flexible treatment. Splints can be removed for bathing and washing, and parents can remove the splint once healing is complete. Obviously, splints need to be worn to be effective, and one downside of a splint treatment is the many children remove them, and then complain of pain at the site of their injury.

Deciding on the best treatment depends on the specific fracture, the comfort of the child and the comfort of their parent with the proposed treatment. When your child has a buckle fracture you can discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Many kids who end up with a cast do so because of the excitement of having a cast to show their friends.

Recovery and Long-Term Effects

Most buckle fractures will heal completely with no long-term issues for the patient. Because these fractures are not significantly displaced, and typically they are not growth plate fractures, there is usually no effect on the long-term health of the bone for the child.

In order to ensure optimal success with treatment, it is important to ensure that appropriate treatment is being followed.

Many parents are concerned that something could be wrong with the bone when their child sustains a fracture. Rest assured that nearly all buckle fractures are normal childhood injuries that heal uneventfully and don't occur because of a problem other than a normal, rambunctious child.

That said, if the fracture occurs without any known injury or there are multiple buckle fracture injuries, it is worthwhile to discuss with your healthcare provider. There are tests that can be performed to assess bone health, however, these do not need to be performed under normal circumstances.

A Word From Verywell

A buckle fracture is a common injury in a young, growing body. Seldom does this injury lead to any long-term consequences. The most common treatment for a buckle fracture is cast immobilization, but the reality is that even a cast is typically not necessary. Simply protecting the injured bone will often lead to effective healing.

Once the bone is healed, injured children can resume normal activities. Buckle fractures should not lead to increased risk of arthritis or chronic joint problems.

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9 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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  5. Levy J, Ernat J, Song D, Cook JB, Judd D, Shaha S. Outcomes of long-arm casting versus double-sugar-tong splinting of acute pediatric distal forearm fractures. J Pediatr Orthop. 2015;35(1):11-7.  doi:10.1097/BPO.0000000000000196

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