What is a growth plate injury?
The growth plate refers to the soft area of bone that has not yet solidified and is still growing. They are usually located at the end of long bones in kids and teens. It is usually the weakest part in an immature skeleton making it very prone to injuries. Sudden impact such as falls and blunt trauma are often the culprits that cause fractures or broken bones. As we get older, this area closes and becomes stronger than surrounding surrounding bone and tissue. Until that happens, this is often a source of pain for active children.
Who gets it most?
Anybody who has not reached skeletal maturity is susceptible to a growth plate injury. The age at which that happens varies from person to person. This occurs around 18-21 for boys and the early teens for girls. Generally, it is twice as likely to happen in men than woman. And of course, the more active the person is, the higher the chances of an injury occurring as well.
What are the symptoms?
Severe pain after an injury is a common complaint. However in kids, they are more likely to experience a fracture in their weaker growth plates than a sprain in their stronger tendons and ligaments. If your child has had a noticeable decrease in activity, favoring one limb over the other, or their leg starts bending in abnormal direction – do not hesitate to seek medical attention by a podiatrist.
How do we test or diagnose?
It is important to be seen by a doctor to assess the severity of the injury. After it has been determined how the injury occurred. X-rays are typically taken to rule out a fracture of any kind.
How do we treat?
The treatment plan is determined by the extent of the injury. A cast or a splint is often employed in minor cases. Surgery is usually performed only when the bones are severely out of place. Regardless, long-term follow up is recommended to ensure proper growth and to help catch and prevent any problems before they become serious.
How do we prevent?
By nature, accidents are difficult to predict when they will happen. Prevention is always the key to all injuries. It is best to ensure that all young athletes are adequately supported with sport appropriate shoes and braces. A custom orthotic is a good idea to be used in conjunction to any shoes to provide optimal performance by aligning the foot in a position where it can move as efficiently as possible.