How to manage a growth plate fracture

A growth plate fracture is a condition where the normal growth of bones of the child or adolescent is distorted or stopped altogether. The growth plate is the part of bone that is still growing. It adds new bone tissue and for normal development. It is comprised of soft and weak bones that are prone to damage during an injury such as vehicular accidents, falls and performing competitive sports.

A growth plate fracture usually needs immediate treatment because they affect how the bone will grow. If left untreated, it will result to a crooked or shorter appearance than the other limb.

Symptoms of a growth plate fracture

  • Inability in moving, placing weight or pressure on the affected limb
    Growth plate fracture

    A growth plate fracture usually needs immediate treatment because they affect how the bone will grow.

  • Pain and tenderness of the area due to pressure of the growth plate
  • Warmth and swelling at the end of the bone that is near the joint

Treatment

  • Let the affected child rest for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 20 minutes if it can be tolerated every couple of hours to lessen the pain and swelling. Avoid placing the pack directly on the skin to prevent further damage and worsen the condition. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or cloth before applying on the area.
  • Elevate the area above the level of the heart to lessen the discomfort.
  • Put the affected limb in a cast or splint to minimize unnecessary movement and pressure on the injured area.
  • If the affected area is displaced, a healthcare professional will put back the joints or bones in their proper positions by manipulation or surgery. After the procedure, the bone will be set in place so it can heal without unnecessary movements. This is done by placing a cast until the affected area is healing which is about in a few weeks or more months. The use of manipulation or surgery will depend on the extent and location of the injury, effects on the nerves and blood vessel and age of the affected child.
  • Protect the cast for fast healing of the area. The cast protects the fracture and lessens the swelling, pain and spasms of muscle. When taking a bath, protect the cast by wrapping it in heavy plastic, a washcloth can be placed around the edges of the cast to prevent water from seeping into the cast.
  • If itchiness is present under the cast, do not use items such as coat hangers or a stick to scratch under the cast to prevent any breakage in the skin.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a growth plate fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage fractures by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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