Children and Growth Plate Injuries From Sports


I know is it only the end of July but fall sports will be starting soon and I thought I would remind you about children and overuse injuries.
I don’t know if you know this but children’s bones are not connected like adult bones. Children have growth plates. Growth plates are the area of tissue at the end of the long bones. Growth plate areas are at the wrist, bones of the legs, in the ankle, foot or hip bones.
In a growing skeleton, the growth plate areas are the weakest areas. An injury to a child’s growth plate is a fracture, whereas in an adult, it might be a sprain. The growth plate areas are weaker than the ligaments and tendons that surround them.
How do children injure their growth plates? One of the most common ways to injure a growth plate is through a traumatic event like a car accident or a fall. Yes, even though your child thinks he can jump from the top of one chair to another, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and they can fall and injure themselves.
The second most common way that children injure their growth plates is overuse. The gymnast that practices for hours or the pitcher that works repeatedly on his or her curve ball or the runner that just cannot get enough track time. All of the time spent on improving their performance through repetitive motion can affect their growth plates.
How can you tell when there is an injury rather than your child being tired from trying? The first rule every parent should follow is that a child should not have to “play through the pain.” Especially if you know that they have been putting in long hours doing repetitive motions. If your child has to stop playing suddenly because the joint that they have been using starts hurting, that is an indication they need to be checked. Another indication would be if an old injury is affecting their playing. A huge indication of a problem would be if their limb is not bending the way it should. All of these things should lead you to the doctor.
If your child is experiencing problems with their feet or ankles, you should head to your friendly local podiatrist. The knowable doctor will exam your child and will probably order an x-ray to check out the affected area. If indeed there is a fracture, your child’s joint will be immobilized (either a cast or a splint). After the fracture is healed, then the doctor will suggest either some physical therapy or some exercises for your child to do to get them back on the field, on the track, or in the gym.
Are you wondering if a growth plate injury can be serious? Yes, it can be. In some cases, the bone can stop growing and one limb can become shorter than the other. Or it can be that if only part of the growth plate is injured and the limb can become crooked.
The keyword when working with children in athletics should be moderation. Even if little Jimmy loves practicing his curve ball for hours on end, you should make sure he varies his routine and doesn’t just repeat the same motion over and over again.
I hate just as much as you do thinking about the end of the summer but the back to school sales have started and that time is coming. Please make sure your child is not in danger of an overuse injury.
Your Pal,
The Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
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