Common Orthopedic Problems in Children

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Though often uncomfortable and bothersome, orthopedic problems in children are common. Whether congenital, developmental, or acquired, orthopedic problems in children can arise nearly anywhere on the body including the feet and toes, knees and legs, hips, spine, neck, shoulder, arms, and hands.

Issues Associated with the Feet
Orthopedic problems of the foot can arise due to congenital or developmental issues with the child. Metatarsus adductus, a congenital issue, causes the foot pad to become abducted. A brace or cast will allow the foot pad to return to normal position and prevent further impairment. Toe surgery may be necessary for certain conditions effecting the digits. Curly toes, overlapping fifth toe, hammer toe, and mallet toe are common conditions that usually require a simple surgery to correct.

Complications of the Legs and Knees
Orthopedic problems of the legs and knees often cause discomfort and sometimes pain in children. Certain conditions improve or completely correct as the child begins to walk. For instance, internal tibial torsion and external tibial torsion, genu varum and genu valgum typically disappear when the child begins to gain strength in the legs. Issues of the knee or knees range from severe issues typically needing surgery to benign conditions typically treated with immobilization. For example, Braker’s cysts form in the knee and will require arthroscopy to diagnose while Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease rarely leads to the need for surgery. Immobilization, moderation of movement, and sometimes physical therapy leads to the recovery of this condition.

Orthopedic Problems of the Hips
Orthopedic problems of the hip originate from a variety of causes. For this reason, careful review of the patient’s history and often arthroscopy of the hip are needed to access the child’s condition. Common problems of the hip include: septic arthritis, Perthes disease, and developmental dysplasia. A type of bacteria, known as staph aureus leads to the development of septic arthritis. Emergency antibiotic therapy, drainage of the site, and an antibacterial cover are needed to cure the patient. Perthes disease typically requires bed rest and sometimes a brace to correct posture.

Curvature of the Spine
Curvature of the spine is one of the most common orthopedic problems affecting children. Different variations and angles of the curves determine the type and severity of the curvature. Kyphosis is abnormal curvature of the sagittal plane, while scoliosis is abnormal curvature of the coronal plane. Depending on the type and severity of the curvature, braces, exercises, or surgery can be done to ensure recovery.
Orthopedic problems can cause discomfort to the affected child. However, with prompt diagnosis and careful treatment, a fast and safe recovery is possible.