While many adults have experienced some type of orthopedic injury, approximately 3.5 million children in the US have experienced an injury that causes musculoskeletal issues. The Bone & Joint Initiative recognizes the specific medical needs of children and has dedicated October 19th as World Pediatric Bone & Joint Day (PB&J). The theme of this year’s celebration is “The Adolescent Female Athlete Triad” and is intended to shed light on the prevention and treatment of pediatric orthopedic injuries.
Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries, with the most common being strains and sprains. Obviously, some sports are more dangerous than others. For example, contact sports such as football result in a higher number of injuries than a non-contact sport such as swimming. However, all sports have a potential for injury, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from misuse of a body part. A pediatric orthopedic physician is the most-skilled and experienced doctor to evaluate and treat musculoskeletal (bone, joint, or muscle) problems in a child. This type of doctor differs from a regular orthopedic surgeon, as they limit their medical practice to patients 18 and under.
Whether on the playground, in the pool or on the field, orthopedic injuries in children can happen anywhere. Children’s musculoskeletal issues are different from those of an adult because children are still growing and their body’s response to injury, infection, or deformity is very different than what would be seen in an adult.
The most common orthopedic issues that arise in children are limb and spine deformities (clubfoot, scoliosis, limb length differences), gait abnormalities (limping), broken bones and bone or joint infections and tumors.
In recent years, the primary focus of pediatric orthopedics has been on childhood injury prevention, with the hopes of educating coaches, parents and children alike on how to avoid many injuries from the start.