Three Types Of Medical Issues Treated By Orthopedic Physicians

Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that cares for the skeletal system and the muscles and ligaments that help support that skeleton. In short, orthopedic specialists repair or correct parts of the skeleton, whether originating from injuries or birth defects. Below are three different issues that pediatric orthopedists deal with in keeping children healthy.


Sometimes it seems that broken bones and children just seem to go together. Combine the curiosity and fearlessness of youth and the impulse to climb that giant oak tree or skateboard down a stair rail is almost irresistible. Either activity may lead to a broken arm or a leg. Simple fractures may just require a cast. Compound fractures, where the bone is shattered in more than one place and may even protrude from the skin, typically need surgery or even pins to hold the healing bone in place. In either case, the resulting cast sometimes becomes a childhood badge of honor, often covered with signatures and drawings from friends.

Spinal Issues

Spinal issues may occur at birth or be caused by injuries. Scoliosis, where the spine is curved sideways, may or may not require treatment. It is estimated that out of 100 children, between one and three will have some sort of spinal curve. Most of these are minimal, with only a fraction of affected children requiring treatment using back braces or orthopedic surgery.

Skeletal Tumors

A tumor is a growth that isn't normal. Tumors may be benign, meaning they don't typically spread beyond the original area, or malignant and cancerous. The latter may quickly spread throughout the body. Tumors may occur in bones as well as in soft tissues.

  • Possible bone tumor symptoms include pain in a bone or joint that increases over time, or that comes on during the night while a child is resting. You may also notice a lump or swelling in the area. Left untreated, growing bone tumors can cause a bone to break.
  • In soft tissues, pain and quickly growing lumps are possible indicators. A real danger, besides the worry about cancer, is whether that lump is affecting neighboring organs.

In either case a trip to the doctor's office is wise. Depending on whether the tumor is benign or malignant, treatments may include radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. One specific type of tumor that occurs mostly in children and teens is a bone cyst. It is often treated by first removing fluid and then injecting a sort of bone paste to encourage healing.