What are the orthopedic problems in children?
Orthopedic problems in children are common. They can be congenital, developing, or acquired, including those of infectious, neuromuscular, nutritional, neoplastic, and psychogenic origin.
As time goes by, you may notice that your child’s growth is not completely straight and narrow. Many young children have flat feet, pointy gaits, pigeon toes, bowed legs, and knees.
As children grow older, some of these conditions correct themselves without treatment. Others don’t or become more serious due to other medical conditions. But many orthopedic (bone) conditions, like dimples or clefts of the chin, are just normal variations of the human anatomy that do not need treatment.
Types of orthopaedic problems in children
As a surgeon, you can find parents who love watching their children run, play, and enjoy life with a healthy body. Every day, babies are born with various orthopedic conditions that can seriously affect their lives if left untreated.
The needs of the child are special. Parents will take care of you to provide personalized child-friendly care and inform their children of the conditions in which they find themselves. And some are the common childhood orthopedic conditions:
It is one of the common childhood orthopedic conditions.
Most babies are born with flat feet and grow arches as they grow. But in some children, the arch is never fully developed. Parents often notice this for the first time because their child has what they describe as “weak ankles” (which seem to bend inward due to the way the feet are planted).
Flat feet do not usually cause problems. Doctors only consider treatment if it becomes painful. They also do not recommend any special footwear, such as high-top shoes, because these do not affect the development of the arch.
Parents are sometimes concerned that flat feet will make their children clumsier than other children, but doctors say that having flat feet is not a cause for concern and should not interfere with playing sports. Occasionally doctors will endorse inserting arch supports into shoes to reduce foot pain.
Toe walking is a common childhood orthopedic condition among young children as they learn to walk, especially during the second year of life. The tendency usually disappears by 3 years, although it persists in some children.
Infrequent toe walking shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety, but children who tiptoe most of the time and continue to do so after age 3 should see a doctor. Persistent toe ambulatory in older children or walking only on one leg may be linked to other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, muscle weakness disorders, autism, or other nervous system problems.
If an otherwise healthy child has persistent toe walking, the doctor might recommend some visits with a physical therapist to learn stretching exercises. Once the child is around 4-5 years old, a cast may need to be placed on the foot and ankle for about 6 weeks to help stretch the calf muscles.
Pigeon toes are a common childhood orthopedic condition. Babies can have a natural turn of their legs around 8 to 15 months of age when they begin to stand up. As they get older, parents may notice that their children walk with their feet inward, also called inward toes, or dove-toe walking. Getting off the feet can have a few different causes which are normal variations in the way the legs and feet are aligned.
Children who bump and trip can often have internal tibial torsion, in which the lower leg is turned inward. Children older than 3 or 4 years with a toe cap may have femoral anteversion, in which there is a greater than normal flexion in the upper leg, causing the upper leg to turn inward. In some children, the toes may be related to existing medical problems, such as cerebral palsy.
Doctors rarely have to treat pigeon feet. The special shoes and orthotics that were commonly used in the past were never shown to hasten the slow natural improvement of this condition. Usually, foot-in-to-foot walking does not interfere with walking, running, or playing sports, and ends on its own when children become teenagers and develop better muscle control and coordination.
Bowlegged is a common childhood orthopedic condition. Bowleggedness (also called genu varum) is an exaggerated outward bending of the legs from the knees down that can be inherited. It is common childhood orthopedic conditions and, in many cases, it corrects itself as the child grows.
Bowlegs after age 2 or bowlegs affecting only one leg may be the sign of a larger problem, such as rickets or Blount’s disease:
Rickets, a bone growth problem usually caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium in the body, causes a strong lean in the legs and can also cause muscle pain and an enlarged spleen and liver. Rickets is much less mutual today than in the past.
Rickets and the resulting bowlegs are almost always corrected by adding vitamin D and calcium to the diet. However, some types of rickets are due to a genetic condition and may require more specialized treatment by an endocrinologist.
Blount’s disease is a disorder that affects the tibia bone in the lower leg. Bowing of the leg due to Blount’s disease is seen when a child is about 2 years old and can come on suddenly and get worse quickly.
The cause of Blount’s disease is unidentified, but it causes an abnormal growth on the top of the tibia next to the knee joint. To correct it, offspring may need braces or surgery when they are between 3 and 4 years old.
You should also take your child to the doctor if the bowed leg is only on one side or progressively worsens.
Most children show a moderate tendency to twisted knees (also called genu valgum) between the ages of 3 and 6, as the body changes natural alignment. It is one of the common childhood orthopedic conditions. Treatment is rarely needed because the legs usually straighten themselves.
Severe knee bumps or more pronounced knee bumps on one side sometimes need treatment. Devices such as braces, splints, and shoe inserts are not helpful and are no longer used. In rare cases where children have symptoms such as pain or trouble running, surgery may be considered after age 10.