Growth Plate Fractures

The growth plate is an area of developing cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones that is active in children that facilitates the growth of bone throughout the child’s development. Bones do not grow from the center outward, instead the growth plate stimulates growth at each end. When a child matures the growth plate hardens into solid bone, because these areas are the last portion of the bone to harden, they are susceptible to fracture. Approximately 15-30% of all fractures sustained in childhood are fractures to the growth plate, most often in the fingers, forearm, and legs. These fractures require immediate attention from an orthopaedic specialist to avoid healing incorrectly and interrupting the development of the bone.

Symptoms

  • Pain following the initial injury
  • A visible deformity to the bone (breaks, unnatural bends, etc)
  • Persistent, severe pain
  • Restricted movement
  • Inability to put pressure on the injured limb

Treatment

  • Casting
  • Surgery with internal fixation (pins) to hold the bone together