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Growth Plate Fractures


Disease: Growth Plate Fractures Growth Plate Fractures
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases
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Disease Definition:

The softer parts of a child's bones where growth occurs is called growth plates. These growth plates are the weakest sections of the skeleton, sometimes weaker than the surrounding ligaments and tendons. Growth plates are located at each end of a bone. An injury that would result in a joint sprain for an adult could cause a growth plate fracture in a child because growth plates are so fragile.


Because growth plate fractures affect how the bone will grow, they should be treated immediately. A fractured bone could be more crooked or shorter than its opposite limb in case a growth plate fracture was treated improperly. However, if a growth plate fracture was properly treated, it would heal without any complications.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The growth plates that are most likely to fracture are those in the forearm bones, the fingers and at the wrist. These types of injuries could also affect the lower leg bones. Some of the signs and symptoms of a growth plate fracture could be:


  • Inability to move the affected area
  • Inability to put weight or pressure on the area
  • Severe pain that doesn't go away


Parents should take their child to a doctor in the case of suspecting a fracture, especially if pain interferes with moving or putting pressure on a limb. In case the child is having trouble playing sports due to persistent pain, or if a visible malformation in the child's arms or legs is noticed, the child should be taken to see a doctor. 


About 15% of childhood fractures involve a growth plate. A fall or a blow to the limb, as might occur in a car accident, is what most growth plate fractures are caused by. Injuries could also occur during sports training due to overuse. About one-third of growth plate injuries are due to competitive sports, including basketball, football, running, gymnastics or dancing. Skateboarding, biking, skiing, sledding or other recreational activities are responsible for another 20% of these injuries.



Growth plate fractures usually heal with no complications in about 85% of the cases. However, there are factors that increase the risk of stunted or twisted bone growth, such as:


Age of the child:

Younger children are at risk of abnormalities for a longer period of time because they have more years of growth ahead of them.


Severity of the injury:

The child's risk of limb deformity is greater if the growth plate has been crushed, shattered or shifted. This risk is also increased by reduced blood supply to the tip of the bone.


Location of the injury:

There are some growth plates that grow more than others. Growth plates that grow the most, such as the ones around the knee, have increased risks.


Depending on the severity of the growth plate fracture, the treatment will be decided. When the fracture is not serious, it will only require a splint or a cast. However, surgical repair will be required for those in which a part of the bone end has separated from the bone shaft.


In case a child had a growth plate fracture, every three to six months for at least two years, the doctor will want to compare the growth of the injured limb with that of its opposite limb. Until the bones of the child stop growing, he/she may need follow up visits depending on the severity of the fracture.


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