Pediatric Orthopedist vs. Adult Orthopedist

Pediatric Orthopedist vs. Adult Orthopedist

by Yenny (SU)

For the most part, the diseases that affect the musculoskeletal structure of the human body are pretty similar whether the patient is adult or a child from neonate (newborn) to adolescent. The skeletal system is anatomically the same and suffers the same kinds of ills.

Orthopedic physicians and surgeons treat conditions of the arms, shoulders, ankle, foot, hip, knee and spine. They also attend to fractures, neuromuscular disorders, musculoskeletal diseases, cancer, and sports injuries in both adults and children.

However, there are some conditions that start at birth or during childhood that can carry on into adulthood.  Other musculoskeletal problems are specifically related to the adult and the aging human body. The form, intensity, and medical approaches for treatment can differ based on the stabilized structure of an adult body, or the still developing pediatric patient.

The Orthopedic Specialist

Adults and children can both have or develop musculoskeletal conditions and suffer from fractures, dislocated joints, and other orthopedic injuries. However, it may come as a surprise that even identical injuries can cause adult and child bodies to respond and heal differently. While general orthopedists are trained to treat adults, pediatric orthopedists and surgeons are specially-trained to handle, assess, evaluate, diagnose, and treat children. 

The Pediatric Orthopedist

Pediatric medicine has a famous saying - “Children are not just small adults.” You cannot deal with them just by being more gentle and speaking slowly. They cannot understand or articulate their problems. They cannot enumerate their symptoms, and may not be able to answer questions. They might be uncomfortable and frightened, which could make them irritable, fidgety and uncooperative.

Pediatric orthopedic specialists undergo additional, specialized training. They are qualified and experienced in applying comprehensive techniques and treatment options in treating musculoskeletal (bone) diseases. Even their specialized instruments are non-threatening to children. 

In the developing and growing child, these conditions and injuries to bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons present differently from the adult, and as such need to be treated differently. The projected or continuing growth of the child has to be factored in when deciding certain treatments.

Pediatric orthopedic surgeons treat patients ranging from newborns to adolescents. They deliver unique medical and surgical orthopedic care exclusively to pediatric patients and know how to make their patients relaxed and cooperative. 

Their offices are more inviting, decorated and laid out in child-friendly ways. Their waiting and examination rooms are equipped with toys, books, art and craft supplies, TVs and videos. This play-room like ambience is comforting to the child. 

Pediatric Orthopedic Treatments 

Pediatric orthopedists are specialists in children’s bone anatomy, bringing a unique understanding about growth plates and development.  They are experts in dealing with abnormalities, deformities, injuries, and related syndromes. They offer therapy that is specific for pediatric needs. 

The areas that pediatric orthopedic physicians and surgeons diagnose, treat, and manage include: 

·      Deformities of the extremities (limbs) and spine. 

·      Abnormalities with mobility.

·      Infections and tumors of bones and joints.

·      Fractures and injuries

Adult Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic specialists provide assessment, diagnosis, and both surgical and non-surgical therapies for the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and conditions in adults.

The wide range of orthopedic conditions and injuries include cerebral palsy, clubfoot, and congenital deformities, to joint care, degenerative neck and spine diseases, musculoskeletal trauma, tumors, and other impairments. Neuromuscular disorders, scoliosis, and spine disorders also come under the purview of these specialists. 

Adult specialties include osteoarthritis, total joint replacement of hand, hip, shoulder and ankle joints, fracture care and management, tendonitis and bursitis treatment, and sports medicine. 

Orthopedic surgeons can undergo further training or fellowships in orthopedic sub-specialties such as:

·      Hand, elbow, and shoulder surgery or replacement

·      Foot, ankle, and hip surgery or replacement

·      Skull reconstruction

·      Spinal surgery

·      Musculoskeletal cancers

·      Surgery for sports medicine

·      Orthopedic trauma

A pediatric orthopedic specialist will tend to have the training of an orthopedic surgeon, with the added training for pediatric care. For the most part, your doctor or orthopedic specialist would refer your child to a pediatric ortho specialist if they needed, but there are also orthopaedic practices that have multiple specialists under one roof. 

Founded over 50 years ago, Watauga Orthopaedics is a respected practice in the field of orthopedic medicine. Our team of specialists is focused on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders and providing comprehensive and timely care to all members of the family. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call (423) 282-9011.