What Orthopedic Specialties are Available for Childhood Problems?
Just as a cook has a few favorite recipes, many orthopedic surgeons have a few orthopedic specialties. It might be something like total joint replacements or hand surgeries, or the focus could be on treating children's orthopedic problems. Kids do have some special needs, such as bow legs, pigeon toes and knock knees. In some cases, these problems continue into adulthood.
What's Normal and What's Not?
Normal childhood development is all about stages – first crawling, then walking and finally running. Orthopedic conditions can be similar. For example, it's normal for babies to have flat feet when they are first born. The arch develops as the child grows older.
Toddlers are typically bow-legged, while older children are more likely to have knock knees. In many cases, these conditions correct themselves as the child grows older. Being bowlegged or knock-kneed doesn't necessarily affect a person’s ability to walk, although it can cause hip or knee pain and may increase the risk of early arthritis.
Flat Feet and Toe Walking
When orthopedic problems don't correct themselves, or if they cause pain, parents may want to consult an orthopedic surgeon. Flat feet, for example, don't affect gait or motion. Some doctors do recommend shoe inserts called arch supports, however, if the feet become painful. Many toddlers walk on their toes, but it usually goes away by the time a child is three. Toe walking may be a sign of other problems, especially if it's only on one foot. If necessary, physical therapy can help stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments. In a few cases, a child might even need a cast for a few weeks. Pigeon toes -- in which the toes turn inward -- is another common condition in toddlers that rarely needs treatment.
Bow-leggedness -- called genu varum in the medical world -- is common in infants. Although it usually corrects itself, some older adolescents and even adults may still be bow-legged. Bow-leggedness can be caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies and may also be genetic.
Children and adults who are bow-legged may need surgery. To fix this condition, the orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision and cuts the bone. Special metal devices are then applied to the outside of the leg to help straighten the bone. Healing takes a few months, although the external device may come off earlier.
Knock knees are called genu valgum. This is another condition that almost never needs treatment because the legs typically straighten as the child grows. Although braces, splints and shoe inserts were once used to treat knock knees, they are no longer recommended because they aren't usually helpful. In older adolescents or adults who have severe knock knees or pain, surgery may be necessary. The procedure is similar to that for bow-leggedness.
Not all orthopedic surgeons deal with these particular orthopedic specialties. Dr. Shahab Mahboubian received training at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York that included all orthopedic problems in children and adults. Contact us today at Height Lengthening for a consultation. We can answer your questions about both child and adult orthopedic problems.