Where to Take Kids, Teens and Young Adults Under 18 for Orthopedic Care

Updated 4/5/21

When your child’s arm takes the brunt of a fall off a bike or his knee twists like a pretzel in a tumble on the soccer field, a doctor visit is probably in your child’s near future. And when it comes to kid, teen and young adult musculoskeletal systems—the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves—where you take your child matters.

Dr. Fletcher, Dr. Bruce and Sophie

If you think your child has any of the above, they need to see a pediatric orthopedic specialist. The name is just what it implies: doctors who have specialized training in treating kids for orthopedic conditions. The orthopedic surgeons, along with the nurses, radiologists, therapists and specialists, who work at pediatric hospitals like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta only treat and care for babies, teens and young adults through 18, so they know kids’ bodies inside and out.

Kids and teens aren’t just small adults. Even as teenagers and young adults, their bones are still growing and pose different challenges than adult bones. That’s why a pediatric orthopedic specialist is the best doctor to determine if your child needs orthopedic surgery.

“Since we specialize in kids and teens with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, we have more experience treating and caring for growing bones than an adult doctor may. We treat tens of thousands of young patients a year, so we’ve seen a lot of conditions, both common and rare, and understand how to treat their orthopedic issues for the best results now and as they grow and mature,” says Michael Schmitz, MD, Chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Children’s.

Our team of specialists:

  • Ranks No. 1 in orthopedic surgery volumes. More kids and teens come to us for orthopedic care than any other pediatric hospital in the country.*
  • Is the only nationally ranked orthopedic program in Georgia for kids and teens.**
  • Is the highest-ranked pediatric orthopedic program in the Southeast.**
  • Performs more spinal fusion surgeries than any other pediatric hospital in the country.*
  • Treats more broken bones than any other pediatric hospital in the Southeast.*

It’s not just about treating injuries, either. The pediatric orthopedic specialists at Children’s also help educate parents on ways to help keep kids’ bones healthy. For example, we know healthy hips start at birth, so we help new parents learn proper swaddling techniques to reduce their child’s risk of needing hip surgery later in life.

When it comes to your child getting the care he needs as an infant, toddler, teen or young adult, you want to make sure he’s receiving care that’s kid focused from beginning to end. When you choose a pediatric orthopedic specialist, you’re choosing someone who understands and treats kids’ unique needs, both physical and emotional. That includes things like kid-sized and kid-friendly casts, braces, waiting areas, patient rooms and communication. A pediatric orthopedic specialist can offer a gentler approach to care aimed at keeping your child as comfortable as possible—no matter his age.

As your child becomes a teen and young adult, it’s important to keep in mind that he is still growing and needs specialized care. Children’s uses techniques aimed at providing older children and young adults with treatments that will keep their bones as healthy as possible throughout their adult lives.

Pain, tests and treatments affect growing kids differently from adults. Young kids haven’t developed the skills to understand why they can’t move during an MRI. And although kids’ fractures heal faster than adults’, it can be hard for a child to understand why he has to take it easy after an injury. That’s why we provide kid-focused care, including:

  • Imaging that uses up to 50% lower doses of radiation than some adult providers.
  • Innovative therapies that allow us to avoid overuse of prescription pain medications.
  • Care for spinal conditions that goes beyond diagnosis to include more treatment options that grow with your child.
  • Therapies and techniques that reduce the need for spine surgery.
  • Three 24/7 Emergency Departments and several Urgent Care Centers for quick diagnosis and treatment.
  • Child life specialists who explain procedures and treatments so that kids understand.

Many orthopedic conditions kids deal with will affect other parts of the body, and vice versa. Pediatric orthopedic specialists collaborate with other pediatric specialists, sharing their expertise about treatments and the long-term impact on growing bones.

When it comes to growing bones, where you take your child matters.

If you think your child has a broken bone or fracture, find a pediatric orthopedic specialist or click the link below to schedule an appointment.

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Michael Schmitz, MD, is Chief of Orthopedics at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He has expertise in complex spinal deformity, congenital and traumatic limb deficiencies, cerebral palsy and complex fractures.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.

*Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), 2019
**No. 10 on the U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list for 2020-21