Growth plates are the areas of new bone growth in children and teens. They're made
, a rubbery, flexible material (the nose, for instance, is made of cartilage).
Most growth plates are near the ends of long bones. Long bones
are bones that are longer than they are wide. They include:
the femur (thighbone)
the lower legs (tibia and fibula)
the forearm (radius and ulna)
the bones in the hands and feet
What Does A Growth Plate Do?
Growth plates are one way bones grow. There are usually two growth plates in each
long bone. They add length and width to the bone.
As kids grow, the growth plates harden into solid bone. A growth plate that has
completely hardened into solid bone is a closed growth plate. After
a growth plate closes, the bones are no longer growing.
When Do Growth Plates Close?
Growth plates usually close near the end of puberty.
For girls, this usually is when they're 13–15; for boys, it's when they're 15–17.
What Problems Can Happen With a Growth Plate?
The growth plate is weaker than solid bone. This makes it more likely to get injured.
These problems can happen with growth plates:
Growth Plate Fractures
fractures are when there is a break
in the growth plate. This happens most often in the bones of the fingers, forearm,
and lower leg. Most growth plate fractures heal
and do not affect future bone growth.
Sometimes, changes in the growth plate from the fracture can cause problems later.
For example, the bone could end up a little crooked or a bit longer or shorter than
Overuse/Repetitive Stress Injuries
Overuse injuries (also called repetitive
stress injuries) can affect the growth plate in kids and teens. Overuse injuries
happens from repeating the same movement over and over. They usually happen to people
who play sports.
Overuse injuries that involve the growth plate include: