The growth plate, also known as the epiphyseal plate, is a hyaline cartilage plate present at the each end of a long bone. This plate is found in growing children and adolescents. In adults, after the growth has stopped, an epiphyseal line replaces the growth plate.
Tibia is the larger of the two shin bones. If the fracture occurs at the growth plate present at the ankle end of the bone, this is known as distal tibial growth plate fracture. These fractures commonly occur in children and adolescents. The growth plates are nothing but a cartilage in children and adolescents. This cartilage ossifies into bone when the growing stops and the bones mature. As the growth plates are the last of the bones to harden, they are at increased risk for injury in children. This is the reason why growth plate fracture occurs in children or adolescents who are still growing, as their skeletal system has not yet reached maturity.
Symptoms of Tibial Growth Plate Fracture
- Pain in the ankle following a sudden impact caused due to a twisting force or fall.
- Difficulty in weight bearing.
- Pain upon ankle movement.
- Rapid swelling.
- If the fracture is severe or displaced, then the ankle may appear deformed.
Causes of Tibial Growth Plate Fracture
- Falling hard such as while running, falling off a bike etc.
- Overuse injuries such as repetitive stress or trauma as seen in long distance runners or gymnasts. The pain develops slowly over the time with the patient complaining of pain during activity. Pain is relieved with rest.
Treatment for Tibial Growth Plate Fracture
- X-ray or MRI helps in confirming the fracture. Patient should visit a Doctor immediately.
- Treatment depends on the severity of the fracture and displacement.
- For minor fractures, casting can be done to immobilize the joint for 4-6 weeks.
- Displaced fractures require manipulation by hands or through surgery. After the bones are realigned, a cast is placed for healing of the bones in place.
- For severe fractures, surgery is required to fix the bone pieces together using screws and plates.
- After the fracture has healed, patient should start a rehab program comprising of stretching and strengthening exercises to regain mobility, flexibility and range of motion of the ankle.