The growth plates are the areas near each end of the long bones in children and adolescents where bone growth occurs. Also known as the epiphyseal plate or physis, this developing tissue determines how long and wide the bone will be when fully grown.
During late adolescence, when growth stops, the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone. Until then, the growth plate is relatively weak and vulnerable to injury. An injury that would cause a sprain in an adult can cause a growth plate injury in a child.
Proper treatment of an injury to a growth plate is essential to ensure normal bone growth.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise