An orthopedic doctor deals with conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system, which involves the bones, muscles, and related tissues and structures. The “ped” root word means “child,” and the prefix “orth” means “straight” or “upright.” The medical field of orthopedics originally addressed bone-growth issues and related physical-development problems in young children.
The field has exploded to now also address musculoskeletal issues of all kinds in adults, such as arthritis and sports injuries. Many aspects of pediatric orthopedics are similar to those of adult orthopedics.
Let’s talk about the differences and similarities between pediatric and adult orthopedics, and where you can go in Northeast Tennessee for outstanding orthopedic care.
Orthopedics in Children
Pediatric orthopedics is devoted to treating musculoskeletal health problems or injuries in children up to age 18. Here are a few facts surrounding pediatric orthopedics:
Children Aren’t Little Adults
Treatment of a musculoskeletal condition that works fine in an adult may not work for your child. This is because your child’s body is still growing and may react differently to injuries and treatments. A young child’s bones are a bit flexible and haven’t yet fully hardened, and the bones haven’t yet grown to their full length – the growth plates are not yet complete until the mid-teens.
Pediatric Orthopedists Have Specialized Education and Training Requirements
This type of doctor learns how to treat bone-growth issues, such as when a child has a leg that is not growing at the same rate as the other leg. A pediatric orthopedist usually completes at least one year of subspecialty training in pediatric orthopedics, including pediatric spinal deformity.
Not all children can express their discomfort or pain when suffering an orthopedic injury or condition. Therefore, a pediatric orthopedist must undergo specific training to understand how to communicate with children and how to determine a diagnosis.
Orthopedic Conditions in Children
Though the scope of orthopedics in children is quite broad, some of the most common conditions that a pediatric orthopedist treats include:
- Problems walking or moving
- Limb deformities
- Spina bifida
- Spinal and nerve issues
- Bone and joint infections
- Sports injuries
Orthopedics in Adults
Adult orthopedics deals with musculoskeletal pain, conditions, and diseases in people age 18 and older. You can see an adult orthopedist for acute issues, such as a sprained ankle, or chronic conditions, such as arthritis. Here are a few facts surrounding adult orthopedics:
Orthopedics in Adults Is Designed to Improve Function Rather than to Address Growth
Unlike children who are in the growing phase, adults have firmly calcified bones. Fractures in adults generally need to have a cast on the area for a longer period of time than would a child’s fracture. Hairline fractures can commonly appear in the bones of older adults, usually due to stress on the bone or to osteoporosis.
Adults frequently develop arthritis, a torn meniscus (cartilage in the knee), shoulder pain due to a torn rotator cuff, and other joint problems. An orthopedist who treats adults sees these injuries more often than other types of orthopedic issues.
Subspecialties in Adult Orthopedics
After residency (which is hands-on medical training after completing medical school), an adult orthopedist can undergo fellowship training in an orthopedic subspecialty, such as:
- Back surgery
- Joint replacement surgery
- Orthopedic trauma
- Musculoskeletal cancer
- An area of the body, such as the arms/hands/shoulders or the spine
Orthopedic Conditions in Adults
Some of the most common orthopedic health issues in adults include:
- Torn meniscus
- Torn rotator cuff
- Joint fracture
- Strains and sprains
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Compression fracture
Adult and Pediatric Orthopedist in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol, TN
If you or your child is suffering from any orthopedic condition or injury, visit us at Watauga Orthopaedics. Our orthopedic specialists know how to address your unique orthopedic issues and can treat a wide range of orthopedic conditions, from diagnosis to rehabilitation.