Growth Plate Fractures

1 What are Growth Plate Fractures?

A fracture that affects the layer of growing tisure at the ends of long bones is known as a growth plate fracture.

An injury that can cause a joint sprain in an adult can cause a growth plate fracture. This is because the growth plate are softest and weakest parts of the bones.

They are even weaker than the surrounding ligaments and tendons. Immediate treatment is required since these types of fractures can affect the growth of a child.

If treatment is not properly given it can lead to a child having a shorter  or crooked limb in comparison with the opposite limb.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of growth plate fractures include:

  • pain and pressure especially when pressure is applied to the growth plate
  • inability to move the affected area
  • warmth and swelling at the site of the fracture

3 Causes

Growth plate fractures are mostly caused by a fall.

They can also occur due to a blow to a limb as might happen during a car accident, competitive sports like football and recreational activities like biking, skiing or skateboarding.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Because growth plated haven't hardened into solid bone, doctors usually make X-ray images of the affected limb and the opposite limb in order to make a diagnosis.

This helps them to compare the different limbs. Computer tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used in severe cases to visualize if there is any injury to the soft tossues around a bone.

5 Prevention

Mild forms of growth plate fractures may only require a cast or splint while severe cases may require surgery.

Frequent X-rays may be recommended to ensure that the growth plate is growing properly.

Follow up checks might also be recommended until a child's bones have finished growing.

This can last for several years.

6 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with growth plate fractures.

Growth plate fractures occur mostly in boys than in girls. This is because at the age of 12 the growth plate of girls is already replaced with solid bone.

Complications rarely occur. When they occur they usually include; crooked limbs or stunted growth. Factors that increase the risk of having crooked limbs or stunted growth include:

  • Severity of the injury
  • Age of the child (younger children have a higher risk of having crroked limbs or stunted growth)
  • Location of the injury. The growth plares around the knee are more sensitive to injury while those around the sholuders and wrists usually heal without problems.
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