As kids reunite with their friends for the new school year in Columbus, there is bound to be some extra zealous recess playtime. While many parents may worry about injuries in their growing kids, parents will be relieved to know that foot fractures account for only around five to eight percent of pediatric fractures. By properly preparing children for physical activity at school and knowing what injuries can occur, parents can keep their kids healthy and enjoying the playground!
Growth plates are unique to children’s bones. All bones in the lower extremity begin as a cartilage structure that is, over time, ossified or transformed completely to bone. A growth plate is a small section of cartilage that remains ossifying between two sections of bone. In the foot and leg, most bones begin to ossify while the child is still in the womb and growth plates do not close until the child is done growing. For most bones, growth plates close around 18 to 20 years of age. Injuries in children’s feet must always be carefully evaluated to avoid or minimize damage to a growth plate. If a growth plate suffers an injury, whether it be a bruise, crush or separation from the ossified bone, the bone may not develop to its full length which can result in deformity and loss of function for the child.
The presence of cartilage and the structure of newly formed bone in children lowers the incidence of fractures compared to adults. Bones are less brittle but may fracture in different ways than adult bones. Children’s bones may receive a buckle fracture or what is known as a “greenstick fracture”. These fractures bring to mind the image of how a toothpick or piece of wood splinters when it is bent. In small children, if fracture is suspected but not visualized on x-ray, an occult or “hidden” fracture may still be present. If a podiatrists suspects an occult fracture based on clinical exam, the foot will be treated as if there is a fracture with a cast for two to five weeks in most cases.
Children are very resilient and while parents should be on the lookout for any bruising, swelling or tales of school yard trauma, foot injuries typically heal with minimal long term damage. Many fractures and even minor growth plate injuries can typically be healed with an immobilizing boot cast. Parents should ensure that their children wear properly fitted athletic sneakers and that they contact their podiatrist if they notice any disturbances in ambulation including tripping or limping.
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.