Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Fracture Clinic nurse removes cast from small child

Apr 27, 2016 / Fractures

Children Are Not Small Adults – Scottish Rite Hospital Fracture Clinic

A phrase we use often in pediatric orthopedics is, “Children are not small adults.” And it is especially true when it comes to broken bones, which we refer to as fractures. Unlike adults, children are still growing. This means they have sensitive areas in their bones called growth plates. Another name for this is the “physis.” The physis is an area of cartilage near the ends of bones. Most long bones in the body have at least two growth plates, including one at each end. Growth plates are the area of the bone where the growing occurs. Since they are the weakest portion of growing bones, they are at risk of being broken, or fractured.

Growth plate fractures account for about 25 percent of all childhood fractures. When not treated properly, the injury could result in a shortened or deformed arm or leg. Because of this, injuries to the growth plate require prompt attention by an expert in pediatric orthopedics. Serious problems are rare, and most growth plate fractures heal without complication.

Though there are growth plates in most bones, these fractures typically occur in the arms and legs. They are often caused by a single event, such as a fall or collision. All growing bones are at risk, but there are certain factors that may make some children more at-risk than others.

Here are some things we know about growth plate fractures:

  • Boys are twice as likely to get these injuries because they continue to grow later in life than girls.
  • About 30 percent occur during competitive sports such as basketball, football or gymnastics.
  • About 20 percent occur during recreational activities such as skating or extreme sports.

We certainly encourage boys and girls to stay active in recreational and competitive sports, but we want you to know we are here when you need us. We only take care of children in our Fracture Clinic, so we have a lot of experience managing fractures in growth plates.

Learn more about our Fracture Clinic at our North Campus in Plano.


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