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What is Paediatric Orthopaedics?

Paediatric Orthopaedics is a field of medicine that provides care for problems that affect the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones of children and adolescents. It is also sometimes called Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery.

Orthopaedic problems in children are different from that of adults as the bones in children are constantly growing and have very different muscle, joint, and bone makeup. Hence, children are often referred to a paediatric orthopaedist by their paediatrician to diagnose and address orthopaedic issues in children. A paediatric orthopaedist is a physician who specialises in the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal (bone, joint, or muscle) conditions in children ranging from infants to teenagers.

What Does a Paediatric Orthopaedist Do?

Paediatric orthopaedists, also referred to as paediatric orthopaedic surgeons, are specially trained to interact with children about their orthopaedic issues. Not only do children have different physical ailments, but they also process them differently. Hence, paediatric orthopaedists can work with your child to design a customised treatment plan to resolve a specific issue that is troubling your child and get your child back in action. Paediatric orthopaedists employ surgical and non-surgical methods to treat your child’s problem. They can carry out surgery when required, but they also bestow other types of treatments, such as casts or limb braces.

What Type of Training Do Paediatric Orthopaedists Have?

Paediatric orthopaedists choose to make the care of children the primary focus of their medical practice. They learn the exclusive nature of surgical and medical care of children from both real-world experience and advanced training in practice.

Paediatric orthopaedists are physicians who have completed the following training and education:

  • Graduated from an authorised medical school (usually 4 years)
  • Completed an authorised orthopaedic surgery residency program (usually 5 years)
  • Finished additional subspeciality training in paediatric orthopaedics and/or paediatric spinal deformity (usually 1 year)

What Types of Problems Do Paediatric Orthopaedics Treat?

The scope of Paediatric Orthopaedics is quite broad. They diagnose, treat, and manage a complete range of musculoskeletal issues in children, including:

  • Spine and limb deformities noticed at birth or later in life, such as scoliosis, clubfoot, limb length discrepancy in the arms or legs
  • Hip dysplasia or developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)
  • Gait abnormalities, such as limping
  • Fractured or broken bones
  • Torn ligaments, such as rotator cuff tears and anterior cruciate ligament injuries
  • Bursitis and tendinitis
  • Muscle, joint, and bone infections
  • Ankle or foot surgeries
  • Nerve issues
  • Sports injuries
  • Abnormalities in the growing process

Paediatric orthopaedists may work with physicians from other specialities as part of a medical-surgical team to treat complicated conditions such as:

  • Spina bifida
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bone tumours, including bone cancer


Children are not just small adults – emotionally, mentally, or physically. They cannot often answer medical questions or be cooperative and patient during a medical exam or always express what is troubling them. They may also feel anxious or frightened from just being in a doctor's office or hospital. Hence, creating a non-threatening and comfortable environment for children begins with the clinical space, and most paediatric orthopaedists' offices are decorated and arranged with children in mind. This may include:

  • Child-friendly decor
  • Toys, videos, and reading materials
  • Specially designed equipment

Additionally, paediatric orthopaedists are trained to examine and treat children in a way that helps them to stay calm and cooperative.

If your paediatrician recommends that your child see a paediatric orthopaedist, you can be rest assured that she or he has the widest array of treatment choices, the most comprehensive and extensive training, and considerable expertise in dealing with children and in treating children’s orthopaedic conditions.