A wrist fracture affects the layer of growing tissue near the ends of a child's bones. Growth plates are the softest and weakest sections of the skeleton — sometimes even weaker than surrounding ligaments and tendons. An injury that might cause a joint sprain for an adult can cause a growth plate fracture in a child.
Growth plate fractures often need immediate treatment because they can affect how the bone will grow. An improperly treated growth plate fracture could result in a fractured bone ending up more crooked or shorter than its opposite limb. With proper treatment, most growth plate fractures heal without complications.
HAND & WRIST ANATOMY
Pain and tenderness, particularly in response to pressure on the growth plate
Inability to move the affected area or to put weight or pressure on the hand, wrist and forearm
Warmth and swelling at the end of a bone, near a joint
A car accident
Competitive sports, such as football, basketball, running, dancing or gymnastics
Recreational activities, such as biking, sledding, skiing or skateboarding
Growth plate fractures can occasionally be caused by overuse, which can occur during sports training or repetitive throwing.
Treatment for growth plate fractures depends on the severity of the fracture. The least serious fractures usually require only a cast or a splint. If the fracture crosses the growth plate or goes into the joint and is not well-aligned, surgery may be necessary. Growth plates that are surgically realigned may have a better chance of recovering and growing again, than do growth plates that are left in a poor position.
At the time of injury, it's difficult to tell if a growth plate has permanent damage. Your doctor may recommend checking X-rays for several years after the fracture to make sure the growth plate is growing appropriately. Depending on the location and severity of the fracture, your child may need follow-up visits until his or her bones have finished growing.
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