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Fractured leg

1What is a fracture?

A fracture is a break in a bone. Fractures of the leg can involve the femur, tibia, fibula or a combination of these.

A child with a fractured leg can experience:

  • pain and tenderness
  • swelling
  • deformity
  • abnormal movement at the fracture site.

An x-ray will be taken of your child’s leg to confirm a fracture. Depending on the type of break, your child may go to the operating theatre to have the leg put into a plaster of Paris cast.

After going to the operating theatre, your child will go to the ward. Here the nurses will help to control pain with medicine, either through an IV drip or oral medication such as paracetamol. Your child will stayin hospital until pain is controlled and they are able

to mobilise safely—usually on crutches. One parent is welcome to stay overnight to help comfort and support the child.

The fractured leg will be elevated on pillows. This will help to decrease swelling and pain.

At home


Keep the leg raised as much as you can:

  • on pillows while in bed
  • or a chair while sitting down.

This will help to decrease swelling and pain.

Pain and analgesia

Your child’s pain should be reduced after the fracture is aligned and the plaster is applied. Some pain can be expected for 48 to 72 hours after discharge. This can be controlled with oral pain medications. If you are unsure, please ask the nursing staff.

Exercises and mobility

  • those parts not enclosed by plaster should be exercised frequently.
  • toes should be moved for five minutes out of every waking hour for the first three days.
  • knee and hip joints should be moved frequently to avoid stiffness and help blood circulation.
  • exercise should help decrease swelling and pain.


Do not wet the plaster. The plaster will become soft and weak if allowed to get wet. When showering or bathing, cover the leg with a plastic bag sealed with sticky tape to stop water getting into the plaster. Do not go swimming.

School and sports

Please ask the doctor when your child can return to school. All sports should be avoided until the plaster is removed. Your child should not play contact sport until advised by the doctor. If your child has difficulty accessing classes, alternative arrangements may needto be made with your school.

Follow up appointment

An follow up appointment will be made for your child prior to discharge. This appointment is usually one week after the operation. An x-ray will be taken just before attending. This will check the alignment and healing of the fracture. A fibreglass layer will be applied to the plaster to strengthen the cast. This is not waterproof.


  • elevate the leg:
    • on several pillows while in bed
    • on a chair or stool while sitting
  • do not push any objects under the case(even for itchiness)
  • keep the toes moving constantly
  • do not wet the plaster
  • do not cut the plaster
  • offer analgesia as required.

Contact your doctor immediately or go tothe nearest hospital that treats children if:

  • toes swell excessively
  • toes go blue or white.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111



Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470014
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 05/5/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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