I’m sure most of you have never heard of a Salter Harris fracture before unless you, a sibling or one of your own children has had one. Salter Harris fracture is different from other common fractures because the fracture occurs at the growth plate; so that makes this fracture special to pediatric patients! There are 9 types of this fracture, 5 are more common, and 4 of them are very rare. We will discuss the 5 more common types. Type I is a transverse fracture through the growth plate, this fracture basically separates the bone in two by splitting the growth plate. Type II is a fracture through the growth plate and through the “neck” part of the bone above the plate. This is the most common form seen! Type III is a fracture through the growth plate and the part of the bone below the plate. Type IV is a fracture through the growth plate and the “neck” above and the area below the plate. Type V is a compression fracture through the growth plate, the fracture doesn’t separate the bone in two like a Type I, the distance of the plate is reduced making the bone “shorter”.

Since the growth plate is involved in this fracture, your podiatrist's main concern will be figuring out how this will affect the growth of the child. For Type I and II growth disturbance is usually uncommon with no functional limitations. A Type III however usually results with the child having a chronic disability, but there is usually no growth deformity. A Type IV is similar to a Type III in the fact that is causes a chronic disability, but it also can cause a deformity of the joint because of the bones fusing together. Type V is a little more difficult to diagnose because the growth plate isn’t necessarily being fracture, it is being compressed. Since the growth plate is being compressed it can cause problems in growth for the child, it can cause the growth plate to fuse earlier than it normally would.

If your child falls and you think that they may have fractured one of their leg bones, make an appointment to visit one of the podiatrists at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Care, located in both Monroe and Edison, NJ to get a diagnosis! The only way to diagnose these fractures is by x-ray; and most of these fractures will require surgery to fix and rehab will be required to regain strength of the foot and leg.

By Varun Gujral