What Is a Growth Plate? Growth plates are the areas of new bone growth in children and teens. They're made up of cartilage , a rubbery, flexible material (the nose, for instance, is made of cartilage). Most growth plates are near the ends of long bones. Long bones are bones that are longer than they are wide. They include: the femur (thighbone) the lower legs (tibia and fibula) the forearm (radius and ulna) the bones in the hands and feet What Does A Growth Plate Do? Growth plates are one way bones grow. There are usually two growth plates in each long bone. They add length and width to the bone. As kids grow, the growth plates harden into solid bone. A growth plate that has completely hardened into solid bone is a closed growth plate. After a growth plate closes, the bones are no longer growing. When Do Growth Plates Close? Growth plates usually close near the end of puberty. For girls, this usually is when they're 13–15; for boys, it's when they're 15–17. What Problems Can Happen With a Growth Plate? The growth plate is weaker than solid bone. This makes it more likely to get injured. These problems can happen with growth plates: Growth Plate Fractures Growth plate fractures are when there is a break in the growth plate. This happens most often in the bones of the fingers, forearm, and lower leg. Most growth plate fractures heal and do not affect future bone growth. Sometimes, changes in the growth plate from the fracture can cause problems later. For example, the bone could end up a little crooked or a bit longer or shorter than expected. Overuse/Repetitive Stress Injuries Overuse injuries (also called repetitive stress injuries) can affect the growth plate in kids and teens. Overuse injuries happens from repeating the same movement over and over. They usually happen to people who play sports. Overuse injuries that involve the growth plate include: Sever's disease Osgood-Schlatter disease jumper's knee Little League elbow Little League shoulder Back to Articles Related Articles Growth Plate Fractures Injuries to growth plates, which produce new bone tissue and determine the final length and shape of bones in adulthood, must be treated so that bones heal properly. Read More Bones, Muscles, and Joints Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn't stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement. Read More Bones, Muscles, and Joints Our bones, muscles, and joints form our musculoskeletal system and enable us to do everyday physical activities. Read More Blount Disease Blount disease is a growth disorder that affects the bones of the lower leg. It causes bowing of the leg below the knee, which gets worse if it's not treated. Read More Blount Disease Blount disease is a growth disorder that causes the bones of the lower leg to bow outward. This gets worse if it's not treated, so early diagnosis is very important. Read More Broken Bones What happens when you break a bone? Read More Broken Bones Bones are tough stuff - but even tough stuff can break. Find out what happens when a bone fractures. Read More Broken Bones Many kids will have a broken bone at some point. Here's what to expect. Read More Leg Length Discrepancy Leg length discrepancy is when someone’s legs are different lengths. For a big difference or one that's likely to get worse, treatment is recommended. Read More Osgood-Schlatter Disease Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is an overuse injury that can cause knee pain in teens, especially during growth spurts. Learn more. Read More Osgood-Schlatter Disease Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is one of the most common causes of knee pain in adolescents. It's really not a disease, but an overuse injury. Read More Overuse Injuries Overuse (or repetitive stress) injuries happen when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, causing problems like swelling, pain, muscle strain, and tissue damage. Read More Repetitive Stress Injuries in Sports Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) happen when movements are repeated over and over, damaging a bone, tendon, or joint. Read More Repetitive Stress Injuries in Sports Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) happen when movements are repeated over and over, damaging a bone, tendon, or joint. Read More Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome This growth-related injury is more common in teens who play sports that require a lot of running or jumping. Find out why it happens - and what you can do to avoid and treat it. Read More Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a shift at the upper part of the thighbone, or femur, that results in a weakened hip joint. Fortunately, when caught early, most cases of SCFE can be treated successfully. Read More Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) A good, stable connection at your hip joint is what lets you walk, run, make that jump shot, and shake it on the dance floor. But in some teens – particularly those who are obese – the hip joint is weakened by slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Read More Sever's Disease Sever's disease, a common heel injury, is due to inflammation (swelling) of the growth plate in the heel. While painful, it's only temporary and has no long-term effects. Read More Sever's Disease Sever's disease, a common heel injury in kids, is due to inflammation (swelling) of the growth plate in the heel. While painful, it's only temporary and has no long-term effects. Read More 3 Ways to Build Strong Bones We build almost all our bone density when we're kids and teens. Kids with strong bones have a better chance of avoiding bone weakness later in life. Here's how parents can help. Read More How Broken Bones Heal Broken bones have an amazing ability to heal, especially in kids. Full healing can take time, but new bone usually forms a few weeks after an injury. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.