The Importance of Addressing Growth Plate Injuries

Childhood is often full of bumps and bruises. Lots of movement and activity can lead to falls and other accidents.

When your child has a musculoskeletal injury, it’s important to get expert treatment. An injury to a growth plate can cause problems in the future if not properly treated. At Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and our regenerative medicine and musculoskeletal physician have special expertise in treating pediatric fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries.

What is a growth plate? 

Your child may seem to get taller before your eyes; from one month to the next, there may be a growth spurt. How does the body accomplish this?

Your child has growth plates at the ends of the longer bones in his body:  the large thigh bone, the lower leg bones, the forearm bones, and the bones in the hands and feet. The plates are new bone made of cartilage, a fibrous, tough tissue. As new bone growth occurs, your child gets taller.

The new bone on the growth plates is softer than older bone, so it’s more susceptible to injury and fracture. The growth plates don’t completely mature into solid bone until girls are between 13 and 15 and boys are between 15 and 17

Why is it important for a specialist to treat growth plate injuries? 

If your child has a musculoskeletal injury near a growth plate, it’s important to seek treatment right away. Pediatric bones heal more rapidly than adult bones, and you want to ensure proper treatment before healing takes place. 

Urgently Ortho physicians have access to all of the needed equipment for diagnostic tests at hand in our facility. There’s no need for an expensive emergency room visit. 

Your Urgently Ortho physician will ask your child to move the injured area in certain ways to determine range of motion, apply pressure to determine if there’s instability in the joint, and take X-rays. Although X-rays don’t always reveal growth plates because they’re cartilage, not bone, your physician can determine if there’s swelling or widening of the growth plates that may signal a fracture.  

Growth plates determine how long the bones will be when your child’s bone growth stops, as well as the shape of the bone. If a pediatric growth plate injury isn’t properly handled, that bone could grow more slowly than a corresponding bone, so one limb could be shorter than the other, causing spinal or other problems, or the bone could be misshapen. Any severe injury to a bone or joint can also result in post-traumatic arthritis. If your child is treated right away, most growth plate injuries heal without these complications.

Effective treatment for growth plate injuries

Your Urgently Ortho physician determines whether surgery is needed. If the bone isn’t out of place, a cast, splint, or brace may be sufficient, along with resting the limb

If the bones aren’t in the correct position, your Urgently Ortho physician must put them back in place after your child has been sedated; the procedure is called a closed reduction. Then the doctor applies a cast, splint, or brace. 

If the fracture is severe, surgery is required to straighten and realign the bones. Metal screws or wires hold the bone in place while it heals, and your child may wear a cast or splint after the surgery. Physical therapy helps promote healing and normal function. 

Check our website for new hours. and call Urgently Ortho for an appointment for all of your orthopedic needs.

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