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Athletic Training

bone growth

02/28/2010

Question:

Briefly explain the process of bone growth?

Answer:

I'm not sure if you are looking for how bones grow normally or how they heal after a fracture.  Normal growth (lengthening) of your long bones occurs ONLY at the ends of the bones.  The shaft of a long bone is called a diaphysis and the "knob" at the end is called an epiphysis.  These are connected to each other by a "growth plate" called an epiphyseal plate".  This plate is made of a cartilagenous material that contains bone cells (osteoblasts) that lay down bone as you grow.  When this happens, we say your growth plates are "open". As you get older, the plates narrow until they eventually just fuse together with the diaphysis and epiphysis.  At this point, we say the growth plates are "closed" and you become "skeletally mature"... you will have achieved your maximum height.  This happens earlier for girls (around age 16) and later for boys (around age 18).  An injury to your growth plate can cause it to "close" prematurely leading to a limb that is shorter than it's partner.

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Response by:

Mark  A Merrick, PhD, ATC Mark A Merrick, PhD, ATC
Associate Professor at the School of Allied Medical Professions
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University