Orthopaedic surgeon

Orthopaedic surgeon

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About orthopaedic surgeons

An orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor who has spent at least an extra seven years studying and developing skills to treat injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system - the bones, joints, muscles and ligaments.

Paediatric orthopaedic surgeons are orthopaedic surgeons who have completed extra training and specialise in the treatment of children, from babies through to teenagers.

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.

An orthopaedic surgeon can give you advice and look at the best way to treat your child's health problems or injury.

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 some information about the following:

  • Why you're going to the orthopaedic surgeon: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see an orthopaedic surgeon and whether there's anything you can do while you're waiting for the appointment.
  • Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the orthopaedic surgeon?
  • Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
  • 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 any questions you have, so you don't forget.