These injuries occur in children and adolescents. The growth plate is the weakest area of the growing skeletonso a serious injury to a joint is more likely to damage a growth plate than the ligaments around it. An injury that would cause a sprain in an adult can be a potentially serious growth plate injury in a young child.
Most injuries to the growth plate are fractures. They are twice as common in boys.
Growth plate fractures occur most often in the long bones of the fingers (phalanges), then the outer bone of the forearm (radius) at the wrist. These injuries also occur frequently in the lower bones of the leg: the tibia and fibula. They can also occur in the upper leg bone (femur) or in the ankle, foot, or hip bone.
While growth plate injuries can be caused by an acute event, such as a fall or a blow to the body, they are also from overuse. Children who participate in athletic activity often experience some discomfort as their bones and muscles grow and they practice new movements. Some aches and pains can be expected, but a childs complaints shoud be taken seriously. Untreated injuries can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper physical growth.
Although many growth plate injuries are caused by accidents that occur during play or athletic activity, growth plates are also susceptible to other types of injury, infection, and diseases that can alter their normal growth and development.