What Does It Mean if My Child Has a Growth Plate Injury?

What Does It Mean if My Child Has a Growth Plate Injury?

You have an active child. Broken bones are a part of childhood for many; about 50% of boys and 40% of girls suffer a broken bone at some point before their teenage years. The most common breaks are in the forearm.  

Our team at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, treats many types of pediatric fractures. These fractures require special, careful treatment because your child’s bones are still growing. If not treated promptly and properly, when bone growth is complete, the bone could be shorter than the bone in the other arm or leg, or the bone could become crooked. A shorter leg length has long-lasting consequences, affecting the walking gait and your child’s entire skeleton. 

What is a growth plate injury? 

A growth plate injury is one that’s near the end of one of your child’s long bones. If your child breaks a bone near a growth plate, it requires skillful treatment and monitoring while healing takes place. The most common growth plate injuries occur in the following bones: 

Your child’s bones grow from each end of their long bones. Since new bone is being formed on both ends of the arm bone, thigh bone, and other long bones in your child’s body, those areas are  especially weak. They’re made up of cartilage, which is flexible tissue. 

Because the ends of the bones are weak, it’s not surprising that breaks occur in those areas. About one-third of fractures in children are growth-plate injuries. 

Your child’s bones don’t stop growing until the teenage years — around age 14 in girls and about age 16 in boys, when the cartilage solidifies into harder bone. 

How is a growth plate injury treated? 

Your Urgently Ortho doctor diagnoses the degree of damage to the growth plate; treatment depends on the severity of the injury. We use a combination of strategies to ensure your child’s bone heals properly: 

Once the initial inflammation has calmed, your child receives physical therapy to restore strength, mobility, and range of motion. He needs to do the exercises every day at home as his therapist directs.   

We schedule your child for regular follow-up appointments, which include imaging to ensure that the bone is growing in its proper place. Follow-ups may continue for 18 months or longer. More complex fractures may need follow-ups until your child’s bone is finished growing

How long does it take my child to recover from a growth plate injury? 

Your child wants to know when he can run, play, and get back in the game. Children’s bones heal faster than adult bones, so in most cases, the healing period is reasonable. 

Most children can be treated with a cast or splint. If the bone is out of alignment, we set the bone and then apply the cast or splint. Depending on the injury, the usual healing period is three to six weeks, but it can be longer. 

Call Urgently Ortho today or send us a message if your child has a musculoskeletal injury for prompt diagnosis and compassionate treatment. 

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