What Every Parent Should Know About Growth Plate Injuries

Kids are prone to accidents as they begin to explore the world and test the limits of their bodies. Unfortunately, this can be a vulnerable time for certain areas of their skeletal structures, namely their growth plates, and fractures can occur.

To help our clients who have growing children, our team here at Genesis Regenerative Sports and Aesthetic Medicine presents the following information on growth plate injuries — what they are, why growth plates are vulnerable, and why prompt treatment is important.

Growth plates — a bony transition

Until they reach adolescence, kids grow and develop at an amazing rate, practically changing from one day to the next. In order for their skeletal systems to pave the way for growth, many bones form growth plates at the ends, which are made from cartilage. In time, these growth plates eventually ossify, but until that time, these areas can be especially vulnerable to injury.

As we mentioned earlier, 15-30% of fractures in children in the United States occur in their growth plates. Boys outpace girls by about two to one on the fracture front, largely because girls develop and mature more quickly.

This final statistic should come as no surprise — nearly one-half of growth plate fractures occur when kids engage in competitive sports or recreational activities, such as skateboarding.

The importance of treating growth plate injuries

Children’s bodies are already in a state of growth and renewal, which means they tend to heal very quickly after an injury. While this may sound like good news, it may not be the case with growth plate injuries. 

While most growth plate fractures heal without incident, some may develop complications that lead to stunted growth, abnormal curvatures, and even accelerated growth.

It’s for these reasons that we recommend you come see us any time you suspect your child has sustained a fracture. Through advanced imaging, such as X-rays, we can take a look inside to determine whether there’s a fracture and the extent of the break.

If the growth plate fracture is moderate to severe, we may suggest immobilization (a cast or sling) to allow the area to heal without further damage. 

Once the fracture knits back together, we may recommend a course of physical therapy to help strengthen the area, allowing your child’s bones to grow surrounded by better support.

If your child has an unstable or severe fracture or the growth plate was crushed, we may recommend surgery to reposition the bones, which are then held together by screws.

Whatever treatment your child needs, we return to the previous point we made about their bodies healing quickly. With the right treatment, your child will be back to normal activity in no time at all.

If you have more questions about growth plate injuries, we invite you to contact our office in Westfield, New Jersey.

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