An orthopedic disorder is any abnormality or deformity of the skeleton and the structures that support the skeleton. Congenital disorders are present from birth, and hereditary disorders are transmitted from parents to their children through the genes. There are many different types of congenital and hereditary orthopedic disorders, and in most cases, children respond very well to treatment.
Children’s Health℠ offers exceptional care for these and other orthopedic disorders. The department is also consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 of its kind in the nation by Parents magazine. The orthopedic service is provided by Children’s Health and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children through UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Our physicians are also faculty members of the orthopedic department at UT Southwestern, where they have access to and participate in research that is instrumental in developing treatments, therapies and a greater understanding of pediatric orthopedic diseases.
Symptoms of congenital and hereditary disorders vary, depending on the type of disorder your child has:
Take your child to the doctor if you notice the following symptoms:
Pediatricians and orthopedic specialists are familiar with normal skeletal development and movement. They often can tell when an infant is born whether a foot is formed improperly for example, and how severe the condition might be. Many congenital and hereditary orthopedic disorders, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip, are diagnosed primarily with a thorough physical examination. Other times, children may need laboratory tests or X-ray and other imaging tests:
Every child with a congenital or hereditary orthopedic disorder will not necessarily need all of these tests. In fact, your child may need nothing more than a physical exam. Your physician will explain which tests may be necessary and why and will let you know what the next steps are.
Children’s Health Orthopedic program is among the top five in the nation. If your child is diagnosed with one of these conditions, our specialists have the expertise to work together to provide outstanding care that ensures the best possible outcome for your child.
When an infant is born with an orthopedic disorder such as metatarsus adductus or clubfoot, a physician usually diagnoses and treats the disorder right after the baby is born. If treatment starts early, your child usually can walk normally, wear regular shoes, and lead an active life.
Some congenital and hereditary disorders are more serious than others, and each child is different. Your physician might recommend the following types of treatments, depending on the type and severity of the disorder:
Our care team is here to support you and help you understand everything you need to know about special exercises, the proper use of splints and other devices, the care of casts, and therapies that will help your child gain strength and improve function.
While muscular dystrophy is a progressive condition that may result in other health issues, our doctors can provide outstanding multidisciplinary care. For most other cases of congenital and hereditary orthopedic disorders, our team has the expertise and resources to provide care that will allow children to resume full, active lives following treatment.
For more information about congenital and hereditary orthopedic disorders, please visit the following sites:
The cause of many congenital disorders is unknown. Some are caused by the baby’s position in the womb, and sometimes the pregnant mother’s tobacco smoking or use of street drugs adds to risk of a congenital disorder. Often, there is no explanation for a congenital orthopedic disorder.
In 1986, researchers identified the gene that changes to cause common forms of muscular dystrophy. Physicians and researchers have made tremendous strides in genetic research in the past decade and are using clinical trials to test how to stop the effects of genetic changes that cause hereditary orthopedic disorders.
Surgery was once the first treatment for some disorders such as clubfoot, but now physicians have less invasive ways to help your child. Your doctor often will recommend exercises, therapy or devices to correct a minor skeletal disorder before recommending surgery.
Unless a disorder is severe or attempts to correct the disorder fail, many congenital disorders can be corrected by the time a child begins walking. Other disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, become progressively worse. For all orthopedic disorders, your physician will recommend addressing the problem as early as possible for best results.
Physical and occupational therapy can help strengthen muscles and other structures that support your child’s skeleton. Children with more severe disorders might require speech therapy or respiratory therapy to help with breathing problems.
Muscular dystrophy is a progressive disorder, meaning it gets worse over time. Doctors continue to find new ways to help children with the disorder live and function better. Because muscular dystrophy weakens muscles, it can weaken the muscles that help with breathing and the heart.
Ultrasound is a common procedure for examining babies in the womb. It does not use ionizing radiation, the type used in X-ray examinations. Instead, ultrasound sends high-frequency sound waves into the body through a transducer. The sound wave echoes return and produce images on a computer monitor.