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Growth Plate Fracture

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Growth Plate Fracture

(Salter-Harris Fracture)


A growth plate fracture is a crack or split in or through the softer areas of a child's bone. These areas let the bone grow and will harden as a child gets older.

These fractures may cause problems with bone growth.

Femur Fracture.

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Growth plate fractures are caused by trauma to the bone.

Risk Factors

These fractures only happen in growing children.

Things that may increase the chance of this fracture are:

  • Playing sports like basketball, football, or volleyball
  • Activities like skiing or skateboarding
  • Not wearing a seatbelt


The symptoms a child has depends on where the fracture is and whether it is mild or severe. Common places for this fracture are the long bones of the fingers, the forearms, and the lower legs. A child may have:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and bruising
  • A change in how the body part looks
  • Problems walking or using the body part


The doctor will ask about the child's symptoms and health history. The doctor will also ask how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done.

Images of the bone may be taken with:


The goal is to make sure the bone heals the right way and can keep growing. The bone may be checked as a child grows to make sure it is growing the right way. Options are:


The risk of this problem in children may be lowered by:

  • Always wearing a seatbelt when riding in a car
  • Wearing padding and safety equipment for sports and activities
  • Learning the right way to do exercises and play sports
  • Taking breaks from exercises and sports when tired

Bone Support

A cast or splint may be used to keep the bone in place while it heals. It will also provide support and ease pain.





  • Chen, H., Chen, Z., et al. Incidence of growth disturbance after distal tibia physeal fracture in children. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 2022; 17: 529.
  • General principles of acute fracture management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/general-principles-of-acute-fracture-management.
  • Growth Plate Fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/growth-plate-fractures.
  • When your child needs a cast. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/casts.html.


  • Nicole S. Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.