Growth Plate Fractures Part 2

In Part 1, we learned the anatomy of the growth plate, a fibrous cartilage center from which bone grows in the adolescent. After learning about the fracture types in our first article, which type do you think this athlete has? This is the case of a 14-year old male. Presented to my office with a not-so-common climbing related injury, this is the perfect learning situation for athletes, their coaches, and our families alike.

How common are these fractures? They aren’t! 15-30% of the fractures that occur in adolescents/children, they are relatively rare. Most commonly, if a growth plate fracture were to occur, it would most likely be a male and in athletes between the age of 15-17 (males) and 13-15 (females). The closer the athlete to this age range, the more susceptible they are to this injury. Over 15 for a female or 17 for a male? Lucky you, your growth plates are most likely closed and you are not susceptible to this injury in almost all cases.

What Happened to this Athlete?

This athlete didn’t have a fall or any major trauma. His parents said he began talking more and more about finger pain until they finally took him in to see his MD. After begin sent to his orthopedic surgeon, this young climber was told to stop climbing, at least for a few years and was sent home with the diagnosis of growth plate fractures in both 3rd knuckles. Let’s discuss diagnosis, treatment and rehab for this unlucky young climber.