An Overview of Pediatric Orthopedics By Jonathan Cluett, MD, a board-certified physician Updated July 25, 2016 Print Kids are prone to many types of orthopedic problems. Whether it's a broken bone after a fall off their bike, a sore knee from too much sports activity, or a growth abnormality that causes a parent to be concerned, pediatric orthopedic surgeons are experts in the care of bone and joint problems in kids. Not every bone problem requires the care of a pediatric orthopedic specialist. Many problems are well taken care of by general orthopedists, pediatricians, or emergency care providers. However, when the problem is more complex, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon may be called in to help.Pediatric orthopedic surgeons have received specialty training in the management of bone and joint problems in children. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon has completed a decade or longer of medical training, including four years of medical school, five years of residency training, and at least one year of specialty training in the management of pediatric conditions. Article This Disease Is a Cause of Bowed Legs in Kids Article Is It Abnormal for Children to Walk on Their Toes? Kids Aren’t Little AdultsSometimes we think of kids as just small adults. With bones, that is definitely not the case. Children's bones are very different as they are quickly growing, and the bone is rapidly developing. A child's bone is more elastic (it can bend, without breaking all the way through) and it has a capacity to remodel over time.Another factor is that children often are unable to express their symptoms or fears in a way that can be easily understood. Very young children may not have developed language skills, and older children may have difficulty communicating even if they do know the words they are trying to say. Physicians treating young children need to be skilled in extracting information about a child's condition, even in situations where they may not be able to ask simple medical questions, such as "where does it hurt?"There are special considerations with a child's bone that need to be taken into consideration when treating kids. Children are growing, often very quickly, and the areas where bone is growing most quickly, called the growth plate, can be susceptible to injury. While healing of a growth plate injury often occurs very quickly because of the rapid growth occurring at that site, your doctor will need to ensure the growth plate was not damaged, or if special treatment of that growth plate is needed. Unrecognized injuries to a growth plate can lead to growth abnormalities such as early closure of the growth plate, or abnormal growth of the bone.Managing Childhood Orthopedic ConditionsWhen a child is injured or has been diagnosed with an orthopedic condition, parents and loved ones can help to support the child through the healing process. Article What to Do About Your Baby's Hip Dysplasia Article Understanding Buckle Fracture in Children Ensuring the child has access to appropriate treatments and that they receive emotional support are critical aspects of care for kids. Some of the more common conditions seen in children include:Broken bonesSpinal deformities (scoliosis)Limping and gait abnormalitiesInfections of bones and jointsPainful joints after sports and activityIn addition, there are some orthopedic conditions that occur in specific age groups. Conditions in newbornsConditions in toddlersWhen treating a child with an orthopedic condition, it is important to not only understand the options for treatment of the particular problem, but are there long term issues related to the condition? Does the child need to restrict her activities? If so, how so and for how long? Should she avoid sports, running, or jumping? Is the condition likely to lead to long-term problems or require further treatment?Helping Kids Feel WellOne of the most important things parents, and other family and friends, can do for kids with an orthopedic ailment is learn how to support their child. Injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions can cause anxiety and depression in kids, and knowing how to support children is an important role for parents to take.Foremost, do not be afraid to ask for help from your child's orthopedic specialist or their pediatrician. These individuals have vast experience working with kids who have faced similar problems and should be able to help you navigate what is likely new territory for you. In the same light, don't hesitate to tell medical professionals how you think your child can be helped. You know your child better than anyone else—their fears, their anxieties, their comforts—and sharing this with their medical team can help them take better care of your child.Some simple tips to help with a child facing an orthopedic treatment:Encourage your child to ask questions, and address those questions seriouslyReinforce brave behaviors with praiseDon't say "it won't hurt" unless it won't hurtBe supportive, comforting, and encouraging—a hug and a smile go a long way Article 5 Symptoms of Transient Synovitis of the Hip in Children Article What Is Osgood-Schlatter Disease and How Is It Treated? Where to Find HelpMany types of doctors take care of children, not just pediatric specialists. That said, pediatric orthopedic surgeons are the experts with the most experience taking care of childhood orthopedic conditions, and can be helpful resources when you want to know all the options available for treatment.Not every hospital orthopedic department will have pediatric orthopedic specialists, but many do. Certainly, any children's hospital will have pediatric orthopedic specialists, and if you want to find a provider in your area, there are suggestions to find an orthopedic surgeon or you can search the database of providers of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America.A Word From VerywellThere is little that causes more fear in a parent than an injured or sick child. Fortunately, the vast majority of orthopedic ailments in kids are temporary frustrations. A child's skeleton has a tremendous ability to heal after trauma, to recover from injury, and to tolerate treatments. Parents are best served by taking their children's conditions seriously to ensure they are getting the right treatment and then listening to their child to ensure they have the emotional support to recover from their condition.Source:Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. OrthoKids. http://orthokids.org/ Accessed July 2016.