Common Pediatric Orthopedic Conditions and Injuries
Very few people go through their entire childhood without any injuries. Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and cuts are common as children grow, especially among those who play sports. Although children tend to have more flexibility in their joints, muscles, and even bones than adults, it’s still common for children to experience a pediatric injury that requires pediatric therapy treatment by a pediatric orthopedics specialist.
South Island Orthopedics understands childhood injuries and is committed to providing the best pediatric orthopedic care to Long Island, NY families in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and beyond. Our specialists are experts in common pediatric orthopedic conditions and are committed to getting your child back on the playground or sports field as quickly as possible.
Injuries That May Require Pediatric Therapy or Treatment
Many pediatric orthopedic injuries are caused by sports—collisions with other players, hard falls, or overuse. Car accidents can also cause injuries, and some teens even sustain injuries at work.
Some of the most common injuries include the following.
Sprains, or an overstretched or torn ligament, are among the most common pediatric injuries in children and adults. Older children and teens, especially those who play sports, are most vulnerable to sprains, which can be painful. Very young children are less likely to experience sprains because they have larger, weaker growth plates at the end of their bones, meaning they are more likely to experience fractures.
Sprains in children are most common in the ankle, knee, wrist, and fingers. However, they can also occur in other parts of the body, including the shoulder and back. Most sprains are caused by a fall or sudden hit to the body, which in turn causes the ligament to stretch, twist, or tear.
Fractured bones are also common in children and are most likely associated with a hard fall or collision. Sometimes overuse (such as in sports like gymnastics, softball, and baseball) can also cause fractures. Unlike adults, however, children are more likely to experience what is called “greenstick” fractures. Because young bones are still growing, they are more flexible than adult bones and less likely to completely break. Instead, childrens’ bones typically bend and break partially, much like a young, green tree branch.
Stronger and more flexible bones also mean children are less vulnerable to hairline or stress fractures than adults.
Children also have growth plates, which are where many pediatric fractures occur. Almost every bone has an area at the end of it called the physis. The physis is a section of specialized cartilage that allows the bone to grow. When a child stops growing, usually by age 16, any remaining growth plate hardens into bone.
Until then, the physis is weaker than the nearby bone and ligaments and more vulnerable to fracture. In fact, as many as 30% of fractures in children are growth plate, or physeal, fractures. They are most common in the wrist, fingers, and lower leg.
A separation of the two bones in a joint is a dislocation. Much like sprains, dislocations—which are most common in the shoulder, elbow, and fingers—are rare in very young children because the growth plates take the brunt of the impact. Teen athletes are most likely to experience these injuries after a fall or collision. Dislocation can also cause the ligaments surrounding the joint to stretch or tear.
Young children, usually between ages one and four, develop a condition called Nursemaid’s Elbow—when a ligament slips out of place and gets caught between the two elbow bones. This may happen when a child puts an arm out to break a fall, but is more likely to occur when they are lifted by their hands or wrists. For example, when each parent holds one of the child’s hands and swings them, the ligament can be displaced.
Children can injure their knees from overuse and hard falls. Knee injuries in kids can include sprains and tendonitis (irritation caused by overuse) to broken bones and damaged cartilage.
The knee is the largest joint and supported entirely by the ligaments and tendons that run along each side and connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (leg bone). Sports that require a lot of jumping, like gymnastics, basketball, and cheering, and those that involve sudden changes in direction or speed (like soccer) are more likely to cause knee injuries.
When to See a Doctor for Pediatric Therapy
Often, a pediatric injury may not immediately appear serious or in need of pediatric therapy. There are several reasons injuries should be evaluated by a pediatric orthopedics specialist as soon as possible.
Children heal more quickly than adults, which is great news for parents and kids. However, if an injury heals incorrectly, your child may have additional pain or mobility issues and need further treatment. For example, growth plate fractures heal very quickly, but sometimes the bone needs repositioning. If the fracture starts to heal before that occurs, the bone cannot be moved. In this case, your child may require surgery to properly treat the injury.
To help you determine whether you should take your child to our urgent care orthopedics clinic on Long Island, take a look at the following symptoms:
- Pain that lasts more than a few hours after the injury.
- Pain when using or putting weight on the injured limb.
- Swelling in the injured area.
- Warmth and redness in a joint.
- Deformity in the affected area. If you can see bone, get immediate emergency treatment.
- Holding the affected arm close to the body or refusing to use it.
It’s best to see a pediatric orthopedics specialist as soon as possible after a sports or playground injury, or any time your child complains of ongoing pain or other symptoms. A specialist in pediatric injury and caring for children helps ensure precision evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment specific to your child’s injury, age, and future growth.
Turn to South Island Orthopedics for Pediatric Therapy
South Island Orthopedics makes it easy for families from Long Island, as well as Manhattan and Queens, to access orthopedic care when they need it. With locations in Woodbury, NY, and Cedarhurst, NY, we are easily accessible from both North Shore and South Shore towns.
In addition to scheduled orthopedic consultations and treatments, both locations offer convenient walk-in urgent care and same-day appointments for emergencies. There’s no need to wait to see a doctor. And if your child is injured in a car accident or at their part-time job, SIO accepts New York’s no-fault and worker’s compensation insurance.
Of course, you can always make an appointment to see one of our board-certified orthopedic specialists as well. Call our Woodbury office at 516-364-0070 or the Cedarhurst office at 516-295-0111, or request an appointment here.