Growth Plate Injuries in Children

Growth Plate Injuries in Children

Development plates are the areas of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in the legs and arms in kids and adolescents. Also called a physis or epiphyseal plate, a development plate produces brand-new bone tissue.

An injured development plate might refrain from doing its job correctly, which can lead to jagged or misshapen bones, limbs that are too short, and even arthritis. Luckily, this is uncommon. With recognition and the right treatment, many growth plate injuries are successfully treated without long-term problems.

A development plate fracture impacts the layer of growing tissue near completions of a child’s bones. Development plates are the softest and weakest areas of the skeleton– in some cases even weaker than surrounding ligaments and tendons. An injury that might cause a joint sprain for a grownup can cause a development plate fracture in a child.

About Development Plates

All long bones have an area called the epiphysis, which is the rounded end of the bone. The long, middle part (or shaft) of the bone is the diaphysis; the area where the bone gets wider at its end is the metaphysis.

In growing kids, development plates sit between the metaphysis and the epiphysis. Growth plates are at the end of long bones, and grow in length. They’re comprised of cartilage, a rubbery, versatile material (the nose, for instance, is made of cartilage).

When a child’s bones are done growing (called reaching skeletal maturity), the development plates ossify (harden) and the epiphysis fuses with the metaphysis, forming one total bone.

Women tend to reach skeletal maturity earlier than kids. Their growth plates normally surround ages 13 to 15, while boys’ development plates close later, at around ages 15 to 17. Before growth is total, the growth plates are at risk for fractures (breaks). An adult whose bones have ended up growing might merely pull a muscle or a tendon after a fall. However in a child, that exact same fall could injure the development plate.

Causes of Development Plate Injuries

The majority of the time, development plate injuries take place from falling or twisting. Contact sports, like football or basketball, or fast-moving activities like snowboarding, skateboarding, sledding, or biking, prevail causes. Injuries can also take place from activities that require repeated training, like gymnastics, track and field, or pitching a baseball.

Less typical causes of injury include:

  • direct exposure to extreme cold
  • medical conditions that affect bone development
  • medicines that can affect bone growth, like treatments for arthritis or cancer

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of a development plate injury are the same as those for a broken bone, and include:

  • failure to put weight or pressure on the limb
  • pain or pain
  • failure to move the limb

If you believe your child has a bone injury, get instant care with your primary care service provider, an orthopedic surgeon, or at an emergency room or urgent care center.

Growth Plate Injuries in Children

Medical diagnosis

In the emergency clinic or doctor’s office, doctors will ask how the injury took place and may do some physical tests, like applying pressure to the bone or joint to see if it’s unsteady.

Because development plates are cartilage, they might disappoint up on X-rays. X-rays show simply the tough, calcium-containing parts of bones. However physicians can still inform a lot from an X-ray, consisting of whether there’s swelling near the development plates or a widening of the development plates that may show a fracture.


Treatment for growth plate injuries first involves resting and not bearing weight on the affected limb. Typically, this indicates using a cast, splint, or brace over the area to prevent movement. Numerous development plate injuries are minor, and this might be the only treatment essential.

Other times, if bones are out of place, they might need to be put back into location through a gentle procedure called a reduction. If required, a decrease will usually be done in the emergency clinic or operating room, after the child has actually been provided medication to lessen the pain. Later, the child may wear a cast, splint, or brace to make sure the bones don’t vacate place.

In a complicated injury, surgery might be had to realign the bones. Surgical plates, screws, or wires may be used to secure the area so that the bone heals normally. After surgery, some kids will wear a cast or splint during recovery.

After the fracture has actually recovered, some kids may require physical therapy to help reinforce the area around the injury, bring back regular motion if a joint (like the elbow) was affected, and make certain bones and joints are working generally.


Most kids who are dealt with for growth plate injuries do not have any long-lasting complications. Nevertheless, follow-up care is very important to make sure bones are healing and continuing to grow normally.

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