A medical doctor who specialized in the treatment of musculoskeletal problems, deformities in limbs and joints, bone infections, broken bones and limping conditions in children. A pediatric orthopedist provides care for children up to 18 year-old adolescents.
The musculoskeletal problems of adults are different from the child’s. The fact that children are still in the growing stage, their bodies respond to infections, deformities and injuries differently from the adults’ response. There are cases when a child is simply having a growth variation expected to resolve in due time and not what is suspected as a musculoskeletal problem. One good example is in-toeing in a toddler. Bone and joint problems in children may be due to growth that do not even manifest in adults. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons evaluate and treat the child with bone and joint problems in a different way than an adult.
Special Needs of Children
Children have special needs. They sometimes are not able to express what is bothering them or respond properly to medical questions. Children can be non- cooperative or impatient during a medical examination. All of these behavioral manifestations are handled best by pediatric orthopedic surgeons as they are trained to make children relaxed and cooperative. If the child manifests signs of musculoskeletal problems, the pediatric doctor will refer the case to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for the proper evaluation and treatment.
Pediatric Problems Treated by Pediatric Orthopedist
Some complex pediatric problems are managed best by a medical-surgical team. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons handle the diagnosis, treatment and management of the children’s musculoskeletal problems, such as:
- Deformities or abnormalities in the spine and limb noted at birth or later in life (scoliosis, limb length differences and clubfoot)
- Abnormalities in gait (limping)
- Broken, damaged or injured bones
- Infections on joint and bone, and tumors
Some pediatric problems can be congenital, developmental or traumatic. A lot of these conditions can be assessed and treated by general practitioners, but others require pediatric orthopedic expertise.
Congenital Abnormalities (Clubfoot and Hip Disorders)
Included in congenital (inborn) problems are clubfoot, hip disorders – congenital or developmental dislocation, orthopedic symptoms of spina bifida or cerebral palsy. Dislocated hips and clubfeet require timely diagnosis and referral for best outcome. Some clubfoot conditions can be casted while most of the cases require surgical intervention which is generally performed when the child is under one year of age. After the successful surgery of the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, the child is able to walk and run without a limp.
Dislocated hips on the other hand may be difficult to diagnose. A hip exam must be documented by a primary care provider in the nursery and at subsequent baby checks. If the condition is discovered under age 6 months, the treatment option is placing a brace on the hip. Casting will be required and when the baby turns 12 – 18 months, surgery may be performed to correct the problem.
Slipping of the Hip Epiphysis and Scoliosis:
Slipping of the hip growth center (epiphysis) and scoliosis are likely to occur as children become teenagers. More common in overweight individuals, if caught early, slipped epiphyses can be pinned in place without a long term problem. However, if undetected or ignored, it will result to early hip arthritis. Slips accompanied by knee pain instead of hip pain are detected late. Pinning should be done right after the diagnosis in order to prevent the hip from slipping further. Pinning is done differently than a hip fracture, using one cannulated type of screw. In severe cases, two screws are used.
On the other hand, scoliosis is common in teenage girls and should be screened for as early as pre-school. The spine curvature progress the most just before the onset of menstrual period and should be monitored as the child grows. If the curvature is more than 25 -30 degrees and the individual is still growing, the patient should be braced. Curvature should not go over 50 – 55 degrees without being closely monitored as it may progress to adulthood leading to a slow and gradual worsening that will make it a high risk for surgery. Pediatric orthopedic conditions should not be treated by chiropractic manipulation as it will not stop the progression of scoliosis. Slipped epiphyses should also not be treated with manipulation. Even electrical stimulation is found ineffective in the treatment of scoliosis.
This is a common condition among children. Fortunately, children no longer require perfect or anatomic alignment. Natural alignment occurs over time within the given parameters owing to the fact that children’s bones are still developing. Using non-surgical procedures, pediatric fractures are treated more frequently than adult fractures. The pediatric orthopedic surgeon must know the growth center when treating a pediatric fracture. The growth center should not be damaged during the surgical procedure. If the fracture passes through the growth plate it must be aligned well. Injury or damage to the growth plate usually occurs from initial trauma and not because of damage to the growth center during surgery.
Childhood Injuries and Trauma
Repairing broken bones caused by childhood injuries and trauma is treated by pediatric orthopedic surgery. This includes surgical procedure to repair dislocated joints and fractured limbs. Sports injuries in children account for a large percentage of the pediatric trauma that require orthopedic surgery. Fracture reduction may be performed when fractures increase the risk of distortion or defect.
There are some cases of cartilage tear injuries which require orthopedic surgical procedure in children. Usually, the joints affecting the elbow or knee are damaged and affected. If children participate in football or other contact sports they run the risk of sustaining such injuries. On the other hand, older children may also suffer from shoulder injuries (rotator cuff tears) sustained from various sports activities. Orthopedic surgery may be required if the tear impairs mobility.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/?CTT=97
Cedric Loiselle is a highly talented writer providing quality articles for a wide range of niches including health, fitness, as well as other medical-related topics. If you are looking for the best pediatric orthopedic surgeon Milwaukee can offer, you should read his articles for tips and advice.