Common Conditions of Pediatric Orthopedics

The field of orthopedics was originally for treating children (not adults) who were born with or who developed musculoskeletal deformities – thus the Greek “ped” root word, which means “child.”

Orthopedic disorders are physical issues that affect the bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. These issues are either inherited, caused by diseases, or the result of an accident.

Orthopedic problems at a young age may limit or even prohibit children from doing physical activities. Therefore, if signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal problems become evident, it is best to consult an orthopedist early on. Treatments may be able to help thwart the condition or prevent it from becoming worse.

Pediatric Orthopedic Disorders

Among children, most orthopedic conditions are innate or from accidents. These issues need to be treated immediately and adequately, because children are in the process of development.

Ignoring these pediatric conditions will be detrimental to the child’s physical growth. It may result in abnormalities or misalignment of the bones, muscles, and joints, because the organs and/or tissues are growing in the wrong direction.

Below are some of the most common orthopedic conditions seen in children:

Bowlegs

Bowlegs is a condition where there is an excessive outward bending of the legs. When standing, the knees bow outward even when the feet are together.

Bowlegs is common among infants, because the legs were folded while in the womb. This condition should be gradually corrected as the child begins walking and putting weight on the legs.

However, if the abnormality only affects one leg or if the child is over 2 years old and the legs are still bowed, an orthopedic physician should be consulted. The child may have Blount disease or rickets, which are treatable conditions.

Pigeon Toes

Pigeon toes are also called in-toeing. During the first 8 to 15 months of childhood, it is normal for the legs to turn inward when the baby starts standing; the legs will straighten as they grow.

However, if the legs do not straighten by the time he or she turns 3, the child may have pigeon toes. This can be treated by a skilled orthopedist.

Flatfeet

Flatfeet is a common inherited condition. Children who are born with flatfeet develop flat arches, and this can cause weak ankles and knees.

This is not considered to be a severe orthopedic condition. Medical attention is only needed if the child feels chronic or frequent foot pain, in which case the doctor may prescribe orthotics or physical therapy.

Knock-Knees

The opposite of bowlegs, a person has knock-knees if their ankles are fairly wide apart but the knees are together when standing. Knock-knees is a common condition among children from ages 3 to 6.

Children with knock-knees will most likely have their legs straightened naturally with weight-bearing activities like walking and running. However, it is a good idea to have an orthopedist see your child regularly so the doctor can ensure that the child’s legs are growing properly.