Growth Plate Injuries

Kids playing doctorThe school nurse’s number shows up on your caller ID and you answer the phone. The pit in your stomach tightens when you learn that your child has been hurt during recess or out on the playing field. You’re told that there is no swelling but your child is complaining of pain. What could it be?

After receiving an evaluation and a series of x-rays from a doctor, you find out that your child has a growth plate injury. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of growth plates and aren’t sure how to react to the news. Our team at Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists is here to provide you with the answers you need.

What Is a Growth Plate?

Growth plates (also known as “physes”) are special cartilage at the ends of your child’s bones that enable them to grow to adult size and fuse when they are finished growing. When your child is hurt playing sports, trips and falls, or otherwise injures themselves, the growth plates can become injured as well. A hallmark sign of a growth plate injury is bone pain near a joint, which may or may not be intense. Other times it is a pain that feels like a sprain but lingers longer than it should.

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Susan Griffith of BCOS notes, “given the critical importance of the growth plates to your child’s physical development, it is absolutely essential to have them carefully assessed and treated to avoid the possibility of growth disturbances, which can lead to limb length discrepancies or deformity.”

What to Do if Your Child Experiences a Growth Plate Injury

While most growth plate injuries heal well with no disturbance to growth, it is important for the injury to be assessed by x-ray and clinical examination. Even if the x-ray appears normal, the growth plate fracture might still be there. It is imperative that an experienced physician makes the diagnosis by physical exam.

Treatment of growth plate injuries will depend upon the findings and the severity of the fracture. If the physeal (growth plate) has been displaced, it may require urgent fixation to decrease the likelihood of permanent growth arrest. Nondisplaced fractures are typically treated in a cast for three to six weeks depending on the location of the fracture and age of the patient. It is important that activity restrictions are abided by to decrease future issues with growth and/or need for surgical intervention.

Regardless of the severity, close monitoring over the course of two years will help you and your orthopedic specialist identify any problems that may create long-term harm and enable you to act quickly to address them.

Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist in Bucks County

The providers at Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists are attuned to looking for and identifying these child-specific injuries and treating them promptly and skillfully. Our board-certified Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Susan Griffith provides high level and age-appropriate care for children and their parents. She is an expert in child fractures, growth plate injuries, pediatric trauma surgery, and more, with decades of experience treating children for a wide variety of orthopedic conditions, including:

Call (215) 600-4714 today to speak to a member of our team or contact us online to book your first appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists in Bucks County.

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