Choosing a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon: 5 Things to Consider

hondurasBecause children, from infants to teenagers, are engaged in the process of growth, any injuries or conditions that affect their musculoskeletal systems must be treated carefully to ensure that their bodies develop as normally as possible. This may require the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in pediatrics. After all, the challenges associated with treating musculoskeletal issues in kids are going to be very different from adults. Even the same circumstances or conditions will require a completely different approach when it comes to treating children simply because a mistake could cause stunted growth or other permanent damage. So whether you’ve notice pronounced curvature in your child’s spine, he suffers from certain birth defects, or he broke the growth plate in his foot while sliding into home during a baseball game, you’ll want to find a doctor that is properly qualified to attend to his targeted needs. Here are just a few things you’ll want to consider as you select a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for your child.

1.  Whether surgery is necessary. This should always be your first question. If you can possibly avoid putting your child through the ordeal of surgery, you should. And you need a doctor that is willing to discuss all possible alternative therapies and potential outcomes before heading straight to the O.R. You need a professional you can trust, and while you may trust your family physician, he simply might not be qualified to answer your questions on orthopedic matters. Luckily, he should be able to provide you with a solid referral to a suitable specialist in your area (and hopefully your insurance network). Just make sure you ask if surgery is absolutely necessary. It’s your job to see that your child receives the best possible care, and that requires you to question and seek a second opinion if necessary.

2.  Bedside manner. Kids are not adults; they aren’t always capable of telling you exactly what’s wrong, expressing how they feel, or giving the answers needed to pinpoint the source of their pain. However, a good pediatric specialist will be able to help your child through the process, guiding him in a calm and productive manner in order to come to a clear diagnosis. You don’t want a doctor that’s going to upset your child and make him feel worse.

3.  Your healthcare provider. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that issues with your child’s musculoskeletal system can quickly get expensive. And unless you want to find yourself on the hook for massive medical costs, it’s probably a good idea to select a professional from amongst the preferred vendors accepted by your insurance. Most providers will have multiple options in your area, as well as outside of it, so you should definitely meet with several approved doctors for consultations before selecting one.

4.  A qualified professional. It’s certainly important to find a specialist that holds the proper credentials and is in good standing with the medical community. But you would probably also prefer a pediatric orthopedic surgeon that is respected, reputable, and highly recommended.

5.  The right specialist. Whether you look into a sports medicine and orthopedic center or you visit a recommended doctor, it’s a good idea to ask the doctors you meet if they’ve had experience dealing with the particular issues your child is facing. Although all pediatric orthopedic surgeons are highly trained professionals and likely capable of addressing conditions that fall in their wheelhouse, you might feel more confident knowing that the doctor you choose has a solid track record of success dealing with cases like your child’s.

photo by: The U.S. Army

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