Common Pediatric Orthopedic Conditions Treated
These days, more children are playing sports at a younger age and doing so on a year-round basis, leaving them susceptible to overuse injuries. Many of these conditions can be prevented or treated with proper training and stretching. Children are also subject to unique injuries to their bones because of a structure known as a growth plate. Injury to this structure – a growth plate fracture – can result in shortening or angular deformity of the arm or leg.
As children grow older and reach adolescence, they can sustain more devastating injuries when playing sports, which may require surgery to get them back on the field or court. Crystal Clinic surgeons have the technical surgical expertise to enable their patients to return to their sport sooner than ever before.
In addition to sports-related injuries, our pediatric orthopaedic specialists are well-versed in treating a wide range of other musculoskeletal issues facing children and adolescents, such as congenital conditions, sprains, strains, fractures and ligament tears. The most frequently seen conditions are described below.
Clubfoot is a deformity of the foot that is present at birth, which results in one or both feet turning inward. Those with a family history of the condition are more likely to be born with it. Treatment includes stretching and casting. If nonsurgical methods are unsuccessful, surgery may be needed.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) occurs when the ball and socket of the hip don’t form normally, causing an improper fit. When detected at birth, DDH can usually be corrected by a harness or brace. If it goes undetected during infancy or childhood, DDH can cause pain in the groin area that may increase with frequency and intensity over time. It can also lead to early onset osteoarthritis.
A dislocation occurs when the ends of two connected bones come apart. It can happen when extreme force is absorbed by a joint from a fall or a hit to the body while playing a contact sport. A dislocation can cause pain, swelling and weakness. Your child may also have difficulty moving the injured part. In order for the joint to heal, the bones must be put back into their proper position. Casting and splinting can help the healing process.
A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. There are many different types of fractures.
Bone fractures are often caused by falls, trauma, or as a result of a direct blow or kick to the body. Overuse or repetitive motions can cause stress fractures. The main goal of treatment is to put the pieces of bone back in place so the bone can heal. This can be done with a splint, cast or surgery.
Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bones to each other and provide stability and strengthen the joint. There are four main ligaments in the knee: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
The ACL can tear during a sudden twisting motion and is most commonly seen in those who play soccer, basketball or football. Damage to the PCL usually occurs as a result of a sudden direct impact from a car accident or a football tackle. Often, these injuries don’t cause significant pain, but you may hear a popping sound as the injury occurs, followed by the leg buckling when attempting to stand. The same is true for collateral ligament injuries. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle-strengthening exercises, protective bracing and icing. Surgery is almost always necessary for ACL tears and may be indicated for other ligaments of the knee.
Meniscus Injuries / Tears
Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries. A tear may occur in different ways. Oftentimes, it can occur when playing sports, but may also happen after years of wear and tear. Pain, stiffness and swelling, catching or locking of the knee, and limited range of motion are common symptoms. Depending on the location of the tear, surgery is very likely to be necessary to allow the body to heal and prevent further joint damage.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are common injuries that occur among people of all ages. A sprain happens when the ligaments that support a joint stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ligaments are flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to bones, and bones to cartilage. Most sprains heal with getting rest and applying ice. However, if there is swelling in the affected joint and you have any difficulty moving or putting weight on it, you’ll want to see your doctor.
Strains occur when a muscle or tendon is injured. Tendons are the fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone throughout your body. Similar to sprains, a strain may be an overstretched muscle or tendon, or it could be a partial or complete tear in the muscle and tendon combination. Pain, cramping, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle weakness and swelling are the most common symptoms.