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When Should Children See an Orthopedic Surgeon?: July 16, 2019

Whether it’s an abnormality or a broken bone, Dr. Daniel Ruggles, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health, says there are treatment options other than surgery. “My job is to sit down with parents and kind of explain the natural history of kids and why their legs can be bowed, or knock knees, or sometimes rotated in causing in-toeing, out-toeing, and just educating the parents on what can be considered actually normal versus what’s truly abnormal.”

Abnormal problems could be a noticeable difference in leg length, limping, pain, or changes to one leg. “When kids are born, they’re often a little bowlegged, and that’s actually normal, and then they tend to grow out of it in the first few years of life. But some kids don’t grow out of it, or other kids actually have pathologic or problems with their bones that cause the bow legging to get worse with time,” said Dr. Ruggles.

While some children are born with congenital deformities, others can develop them as they get older. Depending on the problem, treatment can range from bracing, shoe lifts, or surgery. “Certainly, if they don’t want surgery, we can always do a shoe lift and balance their pelvis with a shoe lift, so I think it’s important to let them know they have options,” he said.

But ignoring the issue can cause more problems as the child gets older. “It’s associated with problems as you get old in life, whether it be arthritis in the hips or the knees, back pain,” Dr. Ruggles said.

Addressing and treating leg discrepancies early can benefit the child’s overall health later on.


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