Pediatric orthopedics diagnoses and treats injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system in children.

What is it?

Pediatric orthopedics uses surgical and non-surgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. A child’s body, which undergoes rapid growth, has a different response to injuries, and deformities than that of an adult.

What are the subspecialties?

There are pediatric orthopedists who specialize in certain diseases such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer), cerebral palsy (neuromuscular condition), and scoliosis (curvature of the spine), just to name a few.

What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?

There are many different conditions or issues that would cause someone to seek treatment with a pediatric orthopedist.  These problems could range from an accidental broken bone to genetic conditions that require bone reconstruction.  Some of the most common conditions that pediatric orthopedists see are growth plate fractures, infections in the bone, joints, or muscles, high school sports injuries, limb length discrepancy, and scoliosis.  Scoliosis is a condition where a child has a curvature in his or her spine that can cause a number of secondary problems.  Scoliosis itself can be a secondary condition due to a genetic disease such as cerebral palsy.  This neuromuscular disease can cause distortion in bone growth, causing the spine to take on an unnatural curve.

What are the commonly associated medical procedures?

With any specialty, come many different procedures.  Some of the more common procedures and treatments that you will find with Pediatric Orthopedics are casting and splinting, ligament repair, physical therapy, closed reduction of a fracture, and open reduction and internal fixation of a fracture.  Open reduction and internal fixation is a surgical method to repair a more complex break in a bone.  This is typically done to stabilize and realign the fracture, which will allow for a proper healing of the bone.

Are there any preventative measures I can take?

Preventative measures that can be taken in order to prevent orthopedic injuries in a child vary depending on age and overall health.  Having a proper diet full of nutrition, especially Calcium and Vitamin D, is essential in maintaining bone health.  Regular exercise and activity also plays a role in bone development and strength.  As a child becomes older and more involved in activities such as sports, encourage him or her to train outside of the sport to avoid injury.  Many injuries can be prevented with a conditioning program that has exercises designed specifically for that sport.

What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?

There is a common misconception that the carbonation in soda drinks is harmful to bones.  Although drinking soda might not be the best for a child’s overall health, it does not harm the bones. The issue with soda arises when a child begins to replace calcium-rich beverages with carbonated ones.  Instead of drinking carbonated beverages, encourage children to drink milk and other drinks containing high levels of Calcium and Vitamin D.

Another common misconception is that if a child is lactose intolerant, the only way to receive Calcium and Vitamin D is through supplements.  This is also false.  There are many alternative foods that are rich in these nutrients including leafy greens, certain cereals, and juices.  There are also  dairy products that have little to no lactose in them.  Some yogurts and aged cheeses that contain Calcium and Vitamin D also have low levels of lactose.


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