by Audrey Madigan
Being active is part of being a child. From the moment children learn to take their first steps, they are in motion. They are climbing, running, swinging, tumbling, jumping in school, sports, gymnastics, cheerleading, karate and a multitude of other activities. Activity is great for children, but as we all know, it can also cause injuries.
The medical field that deals with the diagnosis, correction and treatment of the body’s musculoskeletal system—our bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves that allow our bodies to move—is called orthopedics. The doctors who specialize in this field are orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons.
As parents, we know that children are not small adults, and we can’t treat them that way. Medically, children shouldn’t be treated as adults either. Children are still growing, and their bodies’ reactions to injuries, deformities and infections can be different from adults. For example, children frequently break bones, and fractures have the potential of causing injury to the growth centers of a child’s skeleton. A child’s growth can even cause certain problems in bones and joints, such as toes turning inward, issues adults don’t have to deal with. And even when a child does experience the same problem as an adult, the assessment and treatment of that problem is usually quite different than for an adult.
Not only are children’s bodies different than adults’, children also vary in their ability to answer medical questions or to be cooperative when a doctor tries to determine what is wrong. Sometimes communication with young patients can be difficult, because they are either too young to speak or so frightened that they choose not to talk. As a result, they are not able to say what is bothering them nor can they help identify problems. Fortunately, pediatric orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are trained to examine and treat children in ways that will help them relax and work with the doctor to achieve the most accurate diagnosis. Not only are they trained to connect with anxious children, they are also trained to communicate with worried family members.
Pediatric orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are doctors who are trained to properly identify and treat bone, joint or muscle problems in children who are still growing from newborn to teenagers. They have chosen to make children’s care the primary focus of their medical practice. As a result, they are educated and trained to deal exclusively with children’s issues. They know children, and they know what children need.
- Pediatric orthopedic doctors care for children with broken bones, but also with a wide range of other congenital, developmental and traumatic conditions such as:
- Torn tendons and dislocations
- Scoliosis (an abnormal curving of the spine)
- Overuse and sports injuries
- Leg and arm length differences
- Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida
- Orthopedic trauma
- Hereditary conditions such as club feet
- Hand injuries
- Hip deformation or misalignment
- Bone and joint infections
In treating children, the pediatric orthopedic doctors at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital apply many methods including observing a child’s growth, physical therapy, braces and splints and surgery. In some cases, they will work in partnership with other experts to ensure a child receives the best possible care.
At Children’s Hospital, our goal is to ensure children have the finest treatment available to keep them running, swinging, tumbling and jumping.
Visit www.etch.com for more information.