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Children's growth plate fractures: Why they're not as bad as they appear

by Mehfooz Shaikh 9 months ago in body
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Growth plate fractures should get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

When a parent hears "growth plate fracture," they may think irreversible damage has been done to their child's broken bone prognosis.

Growth plate fractures should get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Pediatric fractures heal differently than adult fractures and can have an impact on a child's future growth.

Growth plate fractures carry additional risks, including the possibility of developing deformity months or years down the road, and can be challenging to detect on a standard X-ray, making examination by a pediatric orthopedist or other experts in children's skeletal injuries even more critical.

"Long-term effects include limb length discrepancies or an angular deformity, which occurs when part of the growth plate shuts down due to trauma while another part continues to grow. That's the main concern following a growth plate fracture, " says Dr. Ratnav Ratan, a renowned pediatric orthopedic surgeon from Gurgaon, Delhi.

In the last decade, Dr. Ratnav Ratan has attended hundreds of training sessions and conferences. Given his passion and dedication to acquiring practical knowledge in orthopedics, he is one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Gurgaon.

Dr. Ratnav Ratan also specializes in guiding and counseling parents of babies born with deformities in their hands and legs who have difficulty caring for their children.

He specializes in treating children with spine curves, walking disabilities, joint infections, crooked limbs, and more.

A growth plate fracture, on the other hand, isn't as bad as its name suggests. Here's why, even if a deformity does develop, prompt attention and treatment often yields positive results:

What is the purpose of a growth plate?

Growth plates, as the name suggests, control how bones grow, determining their length and shape.

They're made of cartilage and are found near joints at the ends of long bones (like the thighbone and metacarpal bones in your hands).

Growth plates are the concluding portion of a child's bones to develop, which is why they're so vulnerable to injury during the growth process.

A growth plate can break in the same way that a bone can. Falls are a common cause of growth plate fractures.

They can also happen while playing sports like football, soccer, or gymnastics. They can also develop over time due to repetitive stress on the bone as a result of overtraining.

Skateboarding, biking, and trampolining are all activities that increase the risk of a growth plate fracture in children.

Growth plate fractures are a risk for all growing children, but boys are more at risk than girls because boys take longer to mature.

The lower legs, forearms, and fingers are the most common sites for growth plate fractures.

The immediate symptoms of pain and swelling are similar to those of any other fracture, which is why children should see an orthopedist or other skeletal growth specialist if they have a fracture to find if a growth plate has got damaged.

Is it necessary to have surgery?

The likelihood of future problems resulting from growth plate fractures is influenced by several factors, including the child's age.

It is less severe if a growth plate fracture occurs near the end of a child's growth. (Growth plates in the arms and legs usually disappear at 16 for boys and 14 for girls.)

"A 16-year-old boy who experiences a growth plate fracture is unlikely to cause problems once the fracture is fixed and it heals," says Dr. Ratnav Ratan. "However, in a six-year-old boy, it can be a very different story because even if the fracture heals and aligns nicely, the child may still require treatment for a deformity down the road."

"Some kids should proceed to have follow-up appointments with a specialist until they've finished developing, into the late teenage years," says Dr. Ratnav Ratan, because of the risk of "growth arrest," which can create a bone to develop irregularly and grow twisted even after a fracture recovers.

Most growth plate fractures heal without complications with proper treatment. While all growth plate fractures must be treated, not all of them necessitate surgery.

"Some immobilization is almost always required," says Dr. Ratnav Ratan, "but most growth plate fractures can be repositioned without surgery and then kept in a cast while they heal."

It's also important to understand that deformities can be corrected with a limb lengthening procedure or an osteotomy (surgery that involves cutting and reshaping the bone).

"Some patients believe nothing can be done if they develop a deformity, but this is not the case.

In most cases, even people who have had a deformity for ten or twenty years can have it corrected, "According to Dr. Ratnav Ratan.

"Deformations can be operated at nearly any age, even into one's 60s, though longer treatment periods can lead to arthritis and other complications."

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Mehfooz Shaikh

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