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Orthopedic complications in childhood related to being overweight or obese may involve hip deformities, knee derangement, painful flat feet, fractures, Blount disease, spinal issues, or joint damage from increased stress on growing bones and joints. Orthopedic manifestations of obesity require evaluation and treatment by qualified pediatric orthopedic specialists for proper management of the growing child’s changing needs.
Orthopedic Manifestations of Obesity Complications
The obese or overweight child is subject to a variety of orthopedic complications. Some of the more common orthopedic issues that may develop include:
- SCFE or slipped capital femoral epiphysis, which presents with hip and knee pain, as well as decreased internal rotation of the hip. SCFE is a shift at the upper part of the femur at the growth plate that results in a weakened hip joint. (Think of a scoop of ice cream that is no longer on it's cone.) It may occur in one or both hips.
- Blount disease or tibia vara – There are several factors involved, but increased weight is one of the greatest risk factors because of the effects it puts on the inside portion of the knee.
- Fractures - data indicates that overweight children have a greater prevalence of fractures especially during a growth spurt. Increased fracture rates among overweight children may be in part related to increased force of fall (due to weight of child), or the quality of bone development does not adequately cope with excess weight.
- Spinal complications -- Back pain can result from the stress extra weight produces on the spine or from the relative lack of physical activity that would normally keep the muscles of the back strong.
- Pain and musculoskeletal discomfort, with knee and foot pain the most commonly reported
- Impaired mobility or diminished dynamic stability and postural balance when comparisons are made between overweight and normal-weight children
- Weight / Bone mass imbalance where high levels of stress on growing bones and joints that may result in joint damage and may contribute to osteoarthritis in later years.
Orthopedic Manifestations of Obesity Treatment
A comprehensive pediatric orthopedic evaluation of your child’s orthopedic status related to their weight is the first step in determining needs and developing a course of treatment to address current and changing developmental issues. Following the evaluation, your orthopedist will review and discuss the plan and course of action with you.