What is Pediatric Orthopedics?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 June 2018
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Pediatric orthopedics is a medical specialty involving caring for children with bone injuries, ranging from trauma to congenital conditions of the bone. People who work in this field provide surgical treatment to children in need of corrective and reconstructive surgery, along with treatment for issues like fractures. To become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, it is necessary to attend medical school and complete an appropriate residency, usually followed by a fellowship to gain additional skills.

People born with congenital bone conditions are often treated in childhood to correct issues like abnormal spinal curvature or bone growth. This can require surgery to lengthen, straighten, or brace the bone. Pediatric orthopedics can involve a variety of procedures to treat congenital and childhood bone disorders, reducing the risks that people will experience complications later in life as a result of delayed treatment.

These surgical specialists can also assist with reconstructive surgery after major trauma to the bone, such as surgery to address injuries to a child's face after a car accident. The surgeon will usually work with a plastics specialist to achieve a desired outcome. For trauma, like fractures and amputations, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon has special skills that can be applied to treatment and management of the trauma and the patient. Special tools designed for smaller patients are available so the surgeon can perform surgeries as safely as possible.


Children are referred to a specialist in pediatric orthopedics when it is clear they need treatment for orthopedic conditions and surgery is the best option for treatment. While children can and do go to conventional orthopedic specialists, working with someone who focuses on caring for children can sometimes result in a better outcome, depending on the child's medical issue. A person with a lot of experience performing an orthopedic procedure on children is very familiar with complications that may arise and is skilled in working with pediatric patients.

It is usually possible to find a pediatric orthopedics specialist practicing in an urban area, especially in a facility like a university hospital, where numerous specialists are on staff to provide an array of options to patients. People in more rural locations where medical specialists tend to be less common because there are fewer patients may have to travel with their children to access care. People who must travel may want to consider researching clinics and conducting some phone interviews with care providers before selecting a location for treatment, to reduce the risk of arriving and finding that the pediatric orthopedics specialist is a poor fit for the case.



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