What Is a Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon?
A pediatric orthopaedist is the best-trained and most experienced doctor to properly evaluate and treat musculoskeletal (bone, joint, or muscle) problems in a child who is still growing. This includes newborn babies through teenagers.
What kind of training do pediatric orthopaedic surgeons have?
Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons choose to make the care of children the focus of their medical practice. The unique nature of medical and surgical care of children is learned from advanced training and experience in practice. Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons are doctors who have the following education and training:
- Graduated from an approved medical school (typically four years)
- Graduated from an approved orthopaedic surgery residency program (typically five years)
- Completed additional subspecialty training in pediatric orthopaedics and pediatric spinal deformity (typically one year)
What types of problems do pediatric orthopaedic surgeons treat?
A child’s musculoskeletal problems are different from those of an adult. Because children are still growing, the body’s response to injuries, infections, and deformities may be quite different than what would be seen in a full-grown person.
Sometimes, what is thought to be a problem in a child is just a variation of growth that will resolve with time. A good example of this is intoeing in a toddler. Some of the problems children have with their bones and joints that are due to growth do not even occur in adults. In addition, the evaluation and treatment of a child is usually quite different than for an adult — even for the same problem.
Children with complex pediatric problems are best managed by a medical-surgical team approach. Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons diagnose, treat, and manage children’s musculoskeletal problems, such as:
- Limb and spine deformities noted at birth or later in life (clubfoot, scoliosis, limb length differences)
- Gait abnormalities (limping)
- Broken bones
- Bone or joint infections and tumors
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons — The Best Care For Children
Children are not just small adults. They cannot always say what is bothering them. They cannot always answer medical questions, and are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a medical examination. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons know how to examine and treat children in a way that makes them relaxed and cooperative. In addition, pediatric orthopedic surgeons often use equipment specially designed for children. Most pediatric orthopedic surgeons’ offices are arranged and decorated with children in mind. This includes the examination rooms and waiting rooms, which may have toys, videos, and reading materials for children. This helps create a comfortable and nonthreatening environment or your child.
If your pediatrician suggests that your child see a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, you can be assured that he or she has the widest range of treatment options, the most extensive and comprehensive training, and the greatest expertise in dealing with children and in treating children’s orthopedic disorders.
Children are NOT simply little adults.
What separates pediatric orthopedics from adult orthopedics? Adults need hip replacements and children get fractures on the playground, right? Well, there is a little more to the difference between the two in the world of orthopedics. Even with the similar injuries adult and children’s bodies often have a different response. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons are specifically trained to evaluate and treat children.
Children’s Bone Anatomy
First of all, children’s bones are substantially different than adults. Infants start off with a skeleton made of cartilage that matures into calcified bone during the early years of development. In fact, during the first few weeks of life, ultrasounds are frequently used to examine children’s bones instead of x-rays. As children grow and develop, their bones have a softer structure than adults. The softer characteristic allows their bones to fracture or break in different ways than adult bones do. The biggest difference is the presence of growth plates in children’s bones. This greatly changes the ways doctors treat and care for injuries as well as bone and joint disorders in children.
Children’s growth plates are the center for bone growth. Growth plates consist of developing cartilage tissue near the end of long bones. Bones grow from the ends where the growth plates are located. Fractures can occur within and near the growth plates. These require different types of treatment compared to similar injuries in adults to avoid later problems with growth. At times the growth of a bone near a fracture can even assist in the bone healing and correcting the fracture which adds to differences in treating kids versus adults. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon is specifically trained to care for and understand these differences which results in better care and outcomes for the patients.
Because children’s bones are different from adult bones, fractures need to be treated differently. For instance, children’s bones heal quicker than adults. This means that children need to be evaluated by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon promptly to ensure that the fracture does not need to be manipulated. If a child’s fracture heals improperly a surgery may be needed to correct it. Also, children’s fractures do not typically need to be casted as long as adults due to the faster healing potential. Not only are fractures different in pediatrics, but also in sports injuries. For example, ACL tears in pediatrics require special surgical techniques that are completely different from adult ACL surgeries.
ORTHOPEDIC DOCTORS CAN HELP REDUCE PAIN
Pain is one of the most common reasons people visit orthopedic doctors. These doctors specialize in the entire musculoskeletal system, understanding the various types of joints and how they work. This includes muscles, nerves, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other connective tissue. There are many musculoskeletal conditions and injuries that can cause pain, and often, orthopedic specialists can help reduce or eliminate pain.
If you have pain, consider making an appointment. Orthopedic doctors diagnose and treat many types of pain all over the body, including:
- knee pain
- hip pain
- shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand pain
- ankle or foot pain
- back or neck pain
Whether your pain is dull or sharp, chronic or acute, an orthopedic doctor may be able to help.
What are the most painful surgeries?
In general, research has found that orthopedic surgeries, or those involving bones, are the most painful.
However, researchers also found that some minor surgeries or those classed as keyhole or laparoscopic could also cause significant pain. Regardless of the type of surgery, a person should speak to a doctor about the procedure and a plan to manage any discomfort. It is also helpful to relate any past experiences with pain medications, as some people are more or less sensitive to these drugs.
Here, we outline what are considered to be Three of the most painful surgeries:
1. Open surgery on the heel bone
If a person fractures their heel bone, they may need surgery. An operation is not always necessary if the bone has not moved too far out of place. To repair the fracture, a surgeon must cut into the skin to get to the broken bone. They can then fix the bone back together, using plates or screws. The skin around the heel is thin, and this area does not have a lot of soft tissue. It is easy to damage the nerves around the heel bone during surgery. Along with the attachment of screws to the bone, this can make the operation and recovery painful.
2. Spinal fusion
The bones that make up the spine are known as vertebrae. Scoliosis and degenerative disc disease are among the medical problems that may affect the vertebrae. If movement between vertebrae is causing pain, a doctor may recommend spinal fusion surgery. This process connects two or more vertebrae to stop them moving against each other.
Sometimes, surgery will involve a bone graft. This is when bone is taken from the hip and put into the spine to help the vertebrae fuse together. Bone grafts may cause significant and even chronic pain following surgery.
A myomectomy is an operation to remove fibroids from the uterus. Although these muscle fibers are almost always harmless, they can be a cause of infertility. The operation is usually done using keyhole surgery. Open surgery may be needed if the fibroids are large. An open surgery procedure is usually more painful than keyhole surgery and will have a longer recovery time. During a myomectomy, a surgeon will cut into the belly and remove the fibroids. Once they have removed the fibroids, they will close the cut with stitches.