High School Sports Injuries – Growth Plate Fractures

Did you know that the millions of high school athletes experience injuries at roughly the same rate that professional athletes do? The difference is that the most common injuries tend to be different for the younger athletes. One of the most prevalent ones among high school participants in sports are growth plate injuries.

In the long bones of that are still growing in both children and adolescents, areas of tissue exist close to their ends. These particular areas are termed as “growth plates.” Each long bone in humans has a minimum of a pair of growth plates. That includes one at either end of the bone. As adolescents complete their physical growth, solid bone replaces the closed growth plates which are more prone to injury.

Certain injuries that would merely cause sprains in adult athletes often result in growth plate injuries ( fractures ) among high school athletes. That includes sports in which certain muscle groups are overused, such as in baseball or gymnastics. For instance, baseball pitchers are constantly using their arm muscles to perfect their masterpiece pitches, while gymnasts are continually giving their arm muscles a workout while practicing on the uneven bars. Such injuries also frequently occur due to full-contact sports, such as basketball and football. Besides competitive sports, recreational activities and falls are also common causes.

While different treatments for growth plate injuries are available, the treatment(s) that a physician uses depends on the variety of  fracture  that the teenager has experienced. The key is that the athlete should undergo treatment as soon as possible! The prescribed treatment usually includes a blend of different remedies, including:

  • Cast
  • Exercises
  • Manipulation
  • Splint
  • Surgery
  • X-rays

The good news is that the vast majority of these types of injuries don’t cause any long-term difficulties for the teenager. Sometimes the bone will stop growing, causing one leg or arm to be slightly shorter than the other limb. In other instances a limb could become curved.

To improve the treatment of growth plate injuries, researchers are developing more effective ways to treat such  fractures . That includes the use of gene therapy, drugs that safeguard the growth plates during treatments that involve radiation, and developing methods to help damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to grow again.

What can teen athletes do to prevent growth plate injuries? Some key steps to take include doing enough physical conditioning for a certain sport, using athletic equipment properly, wearing proper protective equipment for a sport, doing warm-ups before practices and games, and of course-playing by the rules.

Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports, including high school sports. When teens decide to participate in such sports, they should be prepared to take the risks involved in such activities. Taking the right precautions and using the right treatments can help to get the athlete back on the court, field, or rink.