24 answers

How to Tell If Broken Bone in Toddler's Foot?

Last Saturday, 4 days ago, my 2-1/2 year old fell over on a barstool & it must have landed on the middle of her foot, as it puffed up & looked bruised right away. We iced it, she cried about it awhile, but since then we've taken the watch & see approach. How long would you keep an eye on this, or would you bring her in already? Do they do anything if there is a broken bone, etc. or is it something that heals on its own? I can't decide as it seems like one day I look at it & it looks much better (although still somewhat swollen), and she'll be walking on it fine, no complaining, and the next day it looks bruised again & she'll be whining about it.

I tend to be a watcher vs. someone who takes their kid in at the first sign of a sniffle, but I would feel awful if it was something more serious (wouldn't she be complaining consistently in that case though??). People who have seen it have been split - half say I should probably bring her in, the other half say it's fine. I know, I know, they're not doctors! ;-) I just don't know what to do, as I have to be out of town for work & my 5 months old surgery the next 2 days, and with holidays, year-end stress, etc. It's hard to get off of work this time of year (I'm an accountant), so my original plan was to keep a close eye on it & if it's still bugging her, have her tag along to my son's checkup next Tuesday & have someone take a quick peek at it. What would you do??

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

New Update: Brought her in & the dr. said it was fine, nothing broken, etc. Guess I should have went with my gut, but you never can tell ;-) Didn't want to be the bad mom! However, even today she still complains about it at least once or twice a day, so it must have been a deep bruise!

1st Update: Thank you for all your input, especially those that did not attack me in the process ;-) I will be taking her in to have it checked out, just to be safe. To those who have criticized my delay in taking her in - apparently my judgement is flawed - things are not always black & white to me. Especially since her foot looked so much better the next day, my gut told me to give it a few days. Sorry, but this is my first experience with a real (possible) injury. So when she was walking/playing/not complaining all day Sunday-Monday, it just didn't stay high on my radar with all the other stresses of this week.

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It might be nothing.... but what if it's not? Bones can heal improperly and that is almost worse sometimes than an actual break. That is why I wouldn't wait any longer.

3 moms found this helpful

Unless you have x-ray vision this is something you ought to take her to the doctor for. Children heal very quickly. Do you want her bones to heal bent so that she is crippled later on.

2 moms found this helpful

If it is broke and it starts healing wrong. They will have to break it and reset it. I would have taken him in.

1 mom found this helpful

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I would take her in or have your husband or another family member take her. I can't imagine you wouldn't be able to get off work for just a few hours to handle this. Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful

She needs an x-ray. Children heal very quickly...if she has a fracture and it heals improperly it could cause problems for her for the rest of her life. Take her in to the urgent care clinic and have it scanned.

4 moms found this helpful

Its been 4 days and its not 100% better.. in a case like this I would take her in sooner than next Tuesday. Its better to be safe than sorry. My main thing is that if it is broke/ fractured and its healing wrong.. I would hate to have to watch them rebreak it and set it correctly.

3 moms found this helpful

It might be nothing.... but what if it's not? Bones can heal improperly and that is almost worse sometimes than an actual break. That is why I wouldn't wait any longer.

3 moms found this helpful

Unless you have x-ray vision this is something you ought to take her to the doctor for. Children heal very quickly. Do you want her bones to heal bent so that she is crippled later on.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree, take her to the doctor. This isn't a sniffle, it is a possible (based on your description, probable) broken bone.

2 moms found this helpful

If it is broke and it starts healing wrong. They will have to break it and reset it. I would have taken him in.

1 mom found this helpful

Did the same with my 10 year old's wrist. Finally took her in the next day and yep, it was broken. Hairline fracture. I'd take her in. Just go into carenow and they'll do an xray of it.

1 mom found this helpful

This isn't a "sniffle" to watch. Take her to the local urgent care center if your pediatrician can't do the x-ray in house today. The fact that pain and swelling seem to be coming and going and coming again indicates it could be more than a bruised foot. If it's nothing, great, but wouldn't you rather be sure of that before you begin your travel and holiday plans, rather than being nagged in your mind whenever she says "ouch"? So many moms on Mamapedia say "I hesitate to take my child to the doctor" but I don't see why. This is what the doctor's there for.

You can't depend on a child's complaints to tell you how sick or injured they are or are not. Young kids often have a very high tolerance for pain. When my daughter was the same age as yours, she fell off a bench and cracked her collarbone hard -- it was broken, but not displaced -- and showed very little pain outwardly. Even at age eight, when she had appendicitis, she did not show a lot of pain until the very last moments before surgery, though she was in the hospital for a day before that. So don't go by the idea that "she would be complaining consistently" if she had a broken bone.

If you wait until your son's checkup you may find that the doctor's office is too busy, or there are tons of kids waiting and you're told "We can look at that-- in another hour." Also, many doctors will not just "take a peek" at one person when they are doing an appointment for a different person; insurance rules often forbid this, so you could end up with the doctor saying you must schedule her separately, even if it's the same day. Just get it x-rayed at the urgent care center and get some peace of mind.

1 mom found this helpful

I would have been into walk-in a long while ago...Swelling like that would have probably got me to take her into ER

Accountant or not you have to find time for your children especially if it a chance of a broken bone.

And most doctors do NOT like when you tag along another child to get checked out also. Especially if you do not call them and warn them at least. They do not have the time booked out to have unexpected visitors.

1 mom found this helpful

Take her in.. urgent care would do if you can't miss work..

1 mom found this helpful

I'm with you about not running to the doctor over the sniffles, but when a bone may be broken, well, that consitutes a visit to the ER for sure. Yeah, time to take her in.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a wait and see kind of person too but I would probably make the trip to an urgent care to get her foot checked out. When my son was 10 months old his leg broke and I waited until the next day to bring him for the xray. I didn't at first just because when it happened it was so close to his bed time anyway that I figured that was why he was fussy. I felt so bad the next day when the dr said it was broke but he said he sees it a lot parents bringing kids in the next day or a few days later. So if it were me I would bring her in.

If it's been a few days and she is till complaining that it hurts, then yeah, I would take her in. Probably an afterwork urgent care run.

I know when I broke my foot (right along the top too), somedays it would hurt and some days it would seem ok. I would just go ahead and do it to get peace of mind. I am more of a watcher too, but three to four days is my limit. If nothing has improved with anything I am doing then we usually take her in.

Do NOT feel bad for your indecision. When my daughter twisted her ankle, I ran up a huge bill, waited so long in the hospital for someone to help us, I almost got up and took her home. She did not have a break. But they told me that she seems to have an old healed break from before. I had NO idea! She never had pain and swelling that I knew of at any other time.

A few months ago, a daycare boy stubbed his toe. He complained on and off. There was no swelling at all. 5 days later, the mom tells me that he is getting swelling. Well I saw him the 3 days after the incident. Then he was gone for 2 more days. She seemed to be fishing around for me to take responsibility for his supposed cracked toe. Maybe he did crack it, maybe he didn't. Maybe it happened at my house, but maybe he didn't. To me, no swelling + running and playing normally 90% of the time = no break. BUT... Who knows?

I hope she gets better very soon.

We all make judgement calls on when to take our children in or not. When my son played football in 8th grade, he got hurt and we thought he was being a bit dramatic as he did a lot. The coach even made him run with the team afterwards. When he got home he told me it hurt to lift his arms to get his shirt off. I checked his collarbone and sure enough it was broken. His coach and I felt horrible for not taking it seriously but we didn't think he was hit that hard and as I said he was always a bit dramatic over bumps and bruises. After that I decided that it is always best to err on the side of safety. If there were a question, take them in. If she was up playing and not complaining for a couple days, I would say she is probably fine also. With broken arms the cuticils (SP?) turn black and blue right away so maybe with a broken foot there would be some bruising around the bottom of the toenails.

Please take her in for an xray. It is not fair to the doctor to tag her along to your brother's appointment - they are usually solidly booked. He can't tell you it's broken or not without an xray anyway. So call the office and tell them what happened and ask how to go about getting an xray done. Or go to the convenient care center after you get off work and have it xrayed - that might even be easier.

Good luck,
D.

I see that you've had a lot of responses & I haven't read them. I wouldn't be commenting because you already have so many suggestions, but because you wrote that someone criticized you for not taking her in, I have to absolutely say that I wouldn't take her in because it definitely sounds like nothing is broken. I'm also very curious to know for sure. Hope it all turned out OK.

Does your pediatrician have a nurse line you can call and ask them if they think you should bring her in?

I would give it another four or five days to heal. Traumatic injuries take longer to heal than four days. If the foot is broken they may - MAY - put it in a boot (how do I knwo this - it happened to my husband). Iknow kids are different, but no extreme difference will be made or not in the next five days. Get through other child's surgery and if child is limping or having problems walking - then call the doc.
My 2 cents.

I would wait till your son's check up. I am a watcher too.

Like many of the others, I'm also a "watcher" and don't run to the doctor for every little thing. I have also never broken a bone myself so I had no personal experience to draw on.

On separate occasions, I saw each of my kids fall on their arm. The first time was during a soccer game and one of the other parents was coincidently an ER doctor. My daughter didn't cry much (odd behavior for her) and when the Dr. checked it, she quietly told me to go to ER and get an x-ray. The whole way there, we discussed it and even my daughter told us she didn't think it was broken. End result, it was. I called the ER Dr mom after we got home to thank her and tell her how wrong I'd been. She told me when my daughter was so quiet when it initially happened, that was the clue.

My other daughter fell while rollerskating. The whole way home I watched her and she was also strangely quiet so I was on alert. We went for 5 days with very little complaints about the arm. My husband took her outside on day 5 to play basketball and something about the way she had to position her arm to make a shot caused her incredible pain. We went to the doctor the next morning. Sure enough, broken.

The moral of the story is to watch your child's behavior carefully and, as the Orthopedist told us, "when in doubt, check it out". It could be that your daughter's foot only hurts when she moves a certain way and often times kids will go days without complaint about broken bones. I have a friend who fractured her foot as a child and at 47 years old, she can tell the weather by the pains in that foot.

Geeze, it's your DAUGHTER...work can wait, EVERYTHING can wait...bring her in!!!

Unbelieveable!

My son fell down our stairs at 18 months. He cried pretty hard, but was using his hand within an hour, so I opted not to bring him in. The next day he fell in the yard and the reaction to the fall was extreme, so I took him to urgent care. He had a cracked bone in his arm. I felt terrible!

That said - I took my second son in twice for falls where he bumped his foot and had swelling (and didn't want to walk) and it was nothing.

I'd make an appointment and take her in.

J.

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