What is a growth plate fracture?
A fracture is a broken bone Overview of Broken Bones All broken bones are considered fractures. It doesn't matter whether it's just a little crack or a big break with lots of pieces. Broken bones hurt a lot and cause swelling Your bone may look... read more .
A growth plate is the area of cartilage near the end of a bone. Growth plates are where bones grow. Only children and adolescents have growth plates, because after bones are done growing, growth plates turn into regular bone.
Locating Growth Plates
Growth plates (indicated by the pink lines) are areas of cartilage near the ends of long bones, such as the arm and leg bones. They enable bones to lengthen until children reach their full height.
A growth plate fracture is a break through or across a growth plate
Cartilage is softer than bone so it breaks more easily.
Only children and adolescents get growth plate fractures—adults have bone where the growth plates used to be
A growth plate fracture hurts and swells just like any broken bone
A growth plate fracture can stop the bone from growing or make it grow crooked
Your child will need a cast or splint
Rarely, doctors have to do surgery to put the bones back in place
What causes growth plate fractures?
Growth plate fractures happen from:
Strong force, such as a fall or car crash
Stress on your bones from repetitive motions
Children who do gymnastics, baseball pitching, or long-distance running are more likely to get growth plate fractures.
What are the symptoms of a growth plate fracture?
Pain, especially when the area is touched
Trouble moving the injured body part or putting weight on it
How can doctors tell if my child has a growth plate fracture?
To tell if your child has a growth plate fracture, doctors do:
How do doctors treat growth plate fractures?
Doctors treat growth plate fractures by:
Gently moving the bones back into place
Using a cast or splint to keep the bones in place while they heal
Sometimes, doing surgery and holding the bones in place using metal pins, screws, rods, or plates
A crushed growth plate causes problems with the way the bone grows. Children who have a growth plate fracture should see a pediatric orthopedist (a doctor who specializes in treating children's bones, muscles, and joints).