More Than Just a Funny Bone: Preventing Growth Plate Injury

More than just a funny bone?

The funny bone is not only a joke, but it’s also one of the most common bones in our body. You probably have seen someone with a funny bone at some point in your life. It is usually located near the top of the spine (or sometimes upper back) and looks like two small sticks sticking out from the skin around them. These are called growth plates and they’re responsible for growing new bones during childhood or adolescence. If these growth plates don’t grow properly, then the bones will become misshapen and may even break off.

Injuries from funny bone

If you’ve ever had any kind of accident involving a funny bone, you’ll know that it’s very painful. Sometimes the pain lasts for days or weeks afterwards and there is no cure for it. The funny bone isn’t the only thing that hurts when you injure it.

Growth plate injuries

One of the most common kinds of injuries caused by a funny bone is a growth plate fracture. A growth plate is basically a series of bones that connect together to form new bones throughout our lives. These are called growth plates because they only grow when we are babies or in our teen years.

Growth plate injuries can be VERY painful and very serious depending on the kind of injury you experience. They can occur on any bone in your body, but there are two that you need to pay special attention to: your wrists and your elbows.

Most people never get growth plate injuries on their wrists, but it can happen if you fall down and break your arm in a specific way. If the bone is already growing at that time, then the bone may not grow properly once it has finished healing. This causes the wrist to bend or twist in a funny way that it wasn’t meant to do. Over time, this can cause problems with having full range of motion with that wrist.

Elbow injuries are much more common than wrist injuries, but they’re pretty rare compared to other types of bones. Elbows have two growth plates: one on top (humerus) and one on the inside near your forearm (ulna). If you break your arm in a certain way, then you may experience a growth plate injury on the inner or outer part of your elbow. This can cause the bone to bend in a way that it wasn’t meant to do.

Pretty soon, this may lead to impaired motion or pain with certain types of elbow movements. Most of the time, growth plate injuries will heal themselves eventually, but in some cases they don’t. If your injury is serious enough or you don’t use the right treatments for it, then your bones may never fully grow back. This can lead to a permanent loss of range of motion or even a permanent loss of strength for that arm.

Preventing growth plate injuries

More Than Just a Funny Bone: Preventing Growth Plate Injury - GymFitWorkout

While growth plate injuries are very serious and potentially dangerous, they are rare enough that you don’t really have to worry about them too much. Most people will go through their entire lives without ever experiencing one. If you want to play it extra safe, then there are a couple things you can do to prevent potential growth plate injuries.

The first thing you need to do is wear proper protective gear when engaging in physical activity. When you learn how to fall correctly and how to break your falls, this can greatly reduce the risk of breaking bones in general. Wearing wrist guards and elbow pads during high-impact physical activities will also drastically lower your risk of breaking any bones in those areas.

Second of all, it is very important that you learn how to fall correctly. A lot of people don’t know how to do this, but it’s actually a lot easier than you think. Basically, anytime you think you might fall or if you actually feel yourself starting to lose your balance, you want to quickly squat down and throw your hands out in front of you. This is often enough to prevent you from breaking your fall with your hands and it will significantly reduce the force of your impact.

If you are ever in a situation where you feel like you’re about to fall off of something (whether that be off a bike, out of a tree, or off some type of platform), then it is best practice to try to throw your arms out in front of you as soon as you lose balance.

Sources & references used in this article:

Aetiology and prevention of injuries in elite young athletes by N Maffulli, UG Longo, F Spiezia, V Denaro – The Elite Young Athlete, 2011 – karger.com

Elbow injuries in young baseball players by JA Whiteside, JR Andrews, GS Fleisig… – The Physician and …, 1999 – Taylor & Francis

Cell cycle analysis of proliferative zone chondrocytes in growth plates elongating at different rates by NJ Wilsman, CE Farnum, EM Green… – Journal of …, 1996 – Wiley Online Library

Vascular invasion of the epithyseal growth plate: Analysis of metaphyseal capillary ultrastructure and growth dynamics by WL Hunter, AL Arsenault – The Anatomical Record, 1990 – Wiley Online Library

The incidence of injuries in elite junior figure skaters by S Dubravcic-Simunjak, M Pecina… – The American …, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com

Cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in bony tissue repair of injured growth plate cartilage in rats. by R Chung – 2011 – hekyll.services.adelaide.edu.au

Balancing the risk of injury to gymnasts: how effective are the counter measures? by RM Daly, SL Bass, CF Finch – British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2001 – bjsm.bmj.com

Long-term health outcomes of youth sports injuries by N Maffulli, UG Longo, N Gougoulias… – British journal of sports …, 2010 – bjsm.bmj.com