Growth Plate Injuries- What Are They?

Growth plates are the areas of growing soft tissue in the long bones of arms and legs. They are present in kids and adolescents.  Each bone has two growth plates, one on each end, and they determine the length of the matured bone.

Because growth plates are not yet calcified (hardened), they are more prone to injuries.  Boys are more susceptible to growth plate injuries because girls mature at an earlier age, which means their bones harden sooner.

What causes a Growth Plate Injury?

Usually growth plate injuries occur from falling or twisting.  Activities that could contribute to that include:

-Competitive sports: Football, running, gymnastics, basketball

-Recreational sports: skateboarding, biking, skiing

While not as common as a fall, there are other things that can contribute to a growth plate injury including:

radiation and medication, genetics, child abuse and exposure to extreme cold.

What are the symptoms?

-Warmth and swelling at the joint and end of bone

-Inability to put weight on the injured limb

-Pain and tenderness

How are they treated?

The route of treatment for growth plate injuries depends on the degree of the injury.

Generally, treatment begins with rest and avoiding pressure on the injured limb.  The use of a cast, brace or splint may be put on to prevent movement of the affected area.

“When a growth plate has displaced, or is no longer properly aligned, your doctor may realign the broken bones by applying pressure to the injured area. This procedure requires anesthesia. In younger kids, sedation is usually necessary, while older kids and adolescents may tolerate a local anesthetic.”[1]

In instances with a more serious fracture, surgery may be required.


If you suspect an injury to your child’s limb, take them to the doctor immediately. An untreated growth plate injury could result in permanent damage and improperly formed bones


-Sarah Del Buono



1. Jonathan Cluett, MD – Reviewed by a board-certified physician. (n.d.). How are Growth Plate Injuries Treated When Kids Break Bones? Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

2.National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

3.Neal, K. M. (Ed.). (2016, September). Growth Plate Injuries. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

4.Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

5.Growth Plate Comic sourced from:





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