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Why growth plate fractures in kids require special care

Broken bones are a part of growing up for many kids. Most fractures aren’t serious and heal after some time in a cast. 

However, when a growth plate is involved, the consequences can be more significant – particularly if the fracture isn’t treated correctly. That’s why it’s necessary to get your child’s fracture quickly and fully examined after an injury.

What are growth plates?

These are areas near each end of a bone, and sometimes in other areas of the bone, that are made of cartilage. They’re found in the body’s long bones, such as those in the legs, forearms, hands and fingers.

As the child grows, these growth plates harden, which is how the bones get longer and take on the appropriate shape. Until then, they’re especially vulnerable to fracture. Up to 30% of fractures in children involve growth plates. Growth plate fractures are about twice as common in boys as in girls, partly because girls typically finish growing at an earlier age.

Why proper diagnosis and treatment are imperative

If your child has suffered an injury, whether in a car crash, playing sports or in some type of fall or other accident, even if you’re not sure whether they have any fractures, it’s wise to have a doctor examine them as soon as possible. Pain, swelling and the inability to use the injured part of the body are especially crucial signs that something is amiss. 

A growth plate fracture can sometimes be seen on an x-ray. However, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be recommended to get a better look. If a growth plate fracture isn’t properly treated, a child could end up with a limb that doesn’t grow to the proper length or is crooked or otherwise malformed.

Most growth plate fractures, like other fractures, can be treated with a cast that immobilizes the bone for a period. In more serious cases, where bone fragments have been displaced, surgery may be required. A child may need regular monitoring until they’re fully grown to make sure the bone is growing properly.

If your child has suffered a growth plate fracture in a car crash or some other event that resulted from someone else’s actions or negligence, it’s imperative that you know the type and potential costs of treatment, both short-term and long-term, before agreeing to a financial settlement.

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