CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Growth Plate Fracture

(Salter-Harris Fracture)

Definition

A growth plate fracture is a crack or split in or through the growth plate of a bone. Growth plates are softer areas of the bone that are made of cartilage. They occur at both ends of the bone to allow growth through childhood. The area hardens once bones are fully mature.

There are 5 types based on what parts of the bone are fractured:

  • Type 1—fracture passes straight through the growth plate and separates the end of the bone from the shaft of the bone
  • Type 2—fracture passes through the growth plate and the shaft of the bone
  • Type 3—fracture passes through the growth plate and breaks off a piece of the bone
  • Type 4—fracture passes through the shaft, the growth plate, and the end of the bone
  • Type 5—compression (crushing) fracture of the growth plate

Femur Fracture

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Growth plate fractures are the result of a trauma to the bone.

Risk Factors    TOP

These fractures can only occur in growing children.

Activities that are most often associated with growth plate fractures include:

  • Competitive sports such as basketball, football, or volleyball
  • Recreational activities such as skiing or skateboarding

The injury can also occur during a motor vehicle accident.

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the fracture. About one-third of growth plate fractures happen in the long bones of the fingers. Other common areas include the bones in the forearm and lower legs.

Symptoms but may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and bruising—may be mistaken for a sprain
  • Visible deformity
  • Persistent or severe pain in the area
  • Difficulty walking or using the affected area
  • Difficulty returning to a sport

Rarely, these fractures can interfere with bone growth, though the risk depends on the fracture type.

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. The area will be examined by the doctor.

Images of the bone may be taken with:

Treatment    TOP

The goal of treatment is to make sure the bone heals properly and can continue to grow. Treatments may include:

Immobilization

A cast or splint is often used to keep the bone in place while the fracture heals. They will also provide support and decrease pressure on the area to prevent further damage.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed to help line up and stabilize the bone. Surgery may include placing pins and screws in the bone to keep it in place.

Rarely, bone growth is impaired or stimulated by this type of fracture. Surgery may be needed to correct the growth problems.

Follow Up    TOP

It may be several months or years before growth problems develop. The doctor will monitor the growth progress until the bones reach maturity.

Prevention    TOP

To help prevent fractures, encourage your child to:

  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
  • Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities.
  • Take a break from sports or exercise when feeling tired.

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://whenithurtstomove.org

References:

Fractures. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 30, 2017.
Growth Plate Fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 2014. Accessed August 30, 2017.
When your child needs a cast. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2015. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardWarren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/29/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000