Growth Plate Stress Fractures in Teenage Climbers

Posted by Nick Colton on 15/04/2020
Fifteen-year-old climber with a Salter-Harris III lesion. (copyright with permission Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (2005) 16, 139-142.

A guide for parents, coaches, GPs and hand surgeons

Teenage children who climb and train intensively are more at risk of epiphyseal (growth plate) stress fractures of the finger.

The guide available below aims to assist parents and coaches in identifying and avoiding the primary causes of growth plate stress fractures and provide advice for medical professionals on the treatment of such injuries.

Growth plate stress fractures most commonly occur in teenage climbers at the time of the pubertal growth spurt, often around the timing of breast growth for girls and pubic hair in boys. The fingers don’t finish growing until around age 17.

The bone grows from the growth plate and is weakest at this point. Growth plates are significantly weaker than the surrounding tendons and ligaments and so are at increased risk of injury from any activity which loads the finger.

This pdf guide has been produced by Dr Katharine Rivett, MB ChB, MRCGP.  It's for parents and coaches but it also contains important information that they can take to a doctor or GP to help them better understand what their concerns are.  The document is freely available by clicking here


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