Growth Plate Damage: Hidden Danger of a Child’s Arm or Leg Injury


It’s no secret that kids break bones. With the many outdoor activities that we enjoy here in Tallahassee and North Florida, it’s no surprise that our kids occasionally get injured. It’s a trying time for parents, making sure their children are okay as well as securing best medical care to make sure whatever is broken heals correctly.

While we know that no bone is exactly the same after it’s broken, that bone can often times heal with little to no effect on that child’s future development. One exception to that healing process occurs when a “growth plate” is damaged in their bone.

What is a Growth Plate?

The Growth Plate is the area of growing tissue near the ends of long bones in children and adolescents. The growth plate determines the future length and shape of the mature bone. When a child is finished growing, growth plates, which exist next to the joints in arm, finger and leg bones harden to create a fully formed bone. “However, if a growth plate in a bone is damaged before it has the ability to harden, a fracture to the growth plate can severely impact the future growth of that limb or finger.”

Most growth plate fractures occur in in the outer bone of the forearm, in fingers, and they can also be common in lower leg bones. (See National Institute of Health’s Information on Growth Plate Injuries). If your child damages any one of those areas, it is imperative that you ask your doctor about possible growth plate damage as it could affect your child’s future well-being. It is important to note that damage to a growth plate cannot be seen on a standard x-ray because the plate tissue itself hasn’t hardened into solid bone.

There are many occasions where damage to a child’s growth plate can heal with little to no future damage. However, factors that contribute to permanency of the child’s injury are: the severity of injury, the age of the child, the location of the growth plate, and the type of fracture to the plate. Damage, to the growth plate, especially around the knee, may disrupt a child’s future height. (See National Institute of Health’s Information on Growth Plate Injuries)

They can be caused by auto accidents, falls, medication and a number of other reasons.

Please see an experienced attorney

If your child is injured due to someone else’s wrong doing, that person could and should be liable–not only for causing a present injury to your child but may also be liable for any future developmental injuries that trauma may have caused. As growth plate injuries are often times difficult to prove, an experienced Tallahassee personal injury attorney may be needed to force the insurance company and/or defendant to compensate for that future damage.