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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Pain relief for children with broken bones

First aid

If your child has injured an arm or leg and you think it may be broken (also called fractured), try to stop it moving either by using a light splint or supporting the arm or leg on a pillow.

If you have pain relief medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen available, give your child a dose, according to the instructions on the packet. Do not give more than the recommended dose. Remember to tell medical staff that you have given this medicine.

Continuing pain relief

Broken bones can be quite painful at first. When a doctor sees your child they may give them some stronger pain medicine. Usually, once the broken bone is in a cast or splint your child will be a lot more comfortable.

For the first few days your child may have swelling and some pain around the break. They can make it more comfortable by putting the injured arm or leg up on pillows and resting it as much as possible.

Your child will usually need to take regular pain relief medicine for the first few days.


This is a good and safe option for pain relief in children. Your child should take the right amount for their weight. If you're not sure what that is, check this with your doctor or pharmacist. Your child can take paracetamol every four hours, but only up to four times a day.

Although ibuprofen can work well immediately after a fracture, your child shouldn't take it for continuing pain relief, as it might slow down the healing in their bone.


If your child has a really bad break they may need to take codeine as well as paracetamol. The doctor will prescribe this. Your child may have some of these side effects while taking codeine:

See your GP if these symptoms do not go away or if they are bothering your child.


If your child's pain is getting worse, even with pain medicine, you must take them to see your GP or an out-of-hours doctor, or contact the Emergency Department at Grey Base Hospital on (03) 769‑7400 or Buller Hospital on (03) 788‑9030.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by director of nursing, Orthopaedics Services, Canterbury DHB. Page created December 2015.

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Page reference: 232295

Review key: HIBJC-30067