Orthopedic Surgeons Can Help With Childhood Conditions


Adults with joint problems are not the only people who need an orthopedic surgeon. Children, too, sometimes require help from a doctor specializing in the musculoskeletal system. Among the most common childhood orthopedic conditions are toe walking, bowleggedness and knee pain.

While it is normal for children to sometimes walk on their toes during the toddler years, the issue can become a concern if it persists past the age of about 2 ½. “If the child walks on his toes on only one side, it could be the first sign of a more serious condition,” says James M. Edwards, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If it affects both sides, it probably does not signify a bigger problem. However, it can cause muscle tightness, which can lead to problems with running.”

Edwards_James_MG_0047The most common treatment for toe walking is using a leg cast or brace to help bring the toes toward the shin.

Bowleggedness, a condition in which the knees stay wide apart when the feet are together, is common in toddlers. It may become a cosmetic issue when it persists past the age of 2, but doctors typically do not treat it with braces, casts or surgery unless the condition is extreme.

Another condition that can be challenging for children is knee pain. Lateral patellar compression syndrome – a condition that can begin affecting young people between the ages of 10 and 15 – causes pain mainly when the child is ascending or descending stairs. “It often occurs because of the disparity between the growth of the bone and tendon,” says Edwards.

In most cases, lateral patellar compression syndrome occurs without a specific cause. “Children with this condition usually have a predisposition toward it,” says Edwards. “Their knee simply moves in a way that causes pain. Some children grow out of it, but I have seen adults who have experienced knee pain all their lives.”

Treatment typically involves physical therapy and using knee braces during physical activity. “We rarely perform surgery in the younger age group,” says Edwards.

For more information, call 573-331-3996.