About orthopaedic surgeons
An orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor who treats injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system – the bones, joints, muscles and ligaments.
Paediatric orthopaedic surgeons specialise in the treatment of children, from babies through to teenagers.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like orthopaedic surgeons are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Why your child might see an orthopaedic surgeon
Your child might see an orthopaedic surgeon for:
- problems like fractures, infections, arthritis or limping
- abnormalities like scoliosis, club foot and uneven leg length
- significant knock knee or in-toeing
- hip conditions like developmental dysplasia of the hip or Perthes disease.
Treatment of childhood musculoskeletal problems can range from simple observation and reassurance to more involved treatments. These might include orthotics – for example, braces, splints and supports – or even surgery.
To see an orthopaedic surgeon, your child will need a referral from your GP or another medical specialist – for example, a paediatrician. In more urgent situations – for example, when a child suffers a fracture – an emergency department doctor might refer your child. Your GP or other medical specialist can help you decide about seeing an orthopaedic surgeon and help you find someone who’s right for your child.
Before going to an orthopaedic surgeon
Before seeing the orthopaedic surgeon, it’s a good idea to find out about the following:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see an orthopaedic surgeon.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the orthopaedic surgeon?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment – for example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- Cost: how much will the appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you can get a Medicare, private health insurance or other rebate.
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the orthopaedic surgeon – for example, a public or private hospital or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
You can talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP before you go to the orthopaedic surgeon. You could also ask the orthopaedic surgeon’s clinic when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.