Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Fractures and Growth-Plate Injuries Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Fractures and Growth-Plate Injuries

Some signs of broken bones are clear - for example, when the bone breaks through the skin in an open fracture. Other signs that a bone may be broken and a growth plate may be injured include:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Limb or joint looks out of place or the wrong shape
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Unable to move the affected part of the body

The most common locations for fractures in children and teens are:

  • Elbow
  • Forearm
  • Thigh (femur)

When your child or teen breaks a bone, they will have pain at the site of the break. It will be hard for them to move the body part that is broken. This pain and loss of movement is your cue to take them to the doctor or the emergency room.

Diagnosis of Fractures and Growth-Plate Injuries

First, we examine your child and take X-rays of the affected bone or bones. This helps us know how to treat your child.

Simpler breaks can be treated with a sling or a cast. More complex breaks may require surgery. Knowing when a child's fracture needs surgery requires special education and experience with pediatric trauma.

If the bone is broken at or near a growth plate, the doctor may suspect the growth plate is injured. The growth plate itself can't be seen on an X-ray, but some signs of damage may show up. Sometimes children need an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or other scan to check for growth-plate damage.