What are the most common orthopedic problems?

The most common orthopedic problems often vary with age. Children and teens can develop growing pains, overuse injuries, scoliosis, and broken bones. Most adults experience back pain at some point in their lives caused by muscle strain and spinal or disc disease. Osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear arthritis, is another orthopedic problem that can start in middle age and get progressively worse over the years. Treatment for orthopedic problems ranges from pain relievers and rest to surgery.

The bones and cartilage of children and adolescents are still growing, which sets the stage for certain orthopedic problems. Many young people experience pain during their growth spurt. Growing pains occur because bone growth outpaces that of muscles and ligaments, which stretch too much. Treatment may include pain relievers, massage, stretching, and a heating pad.

Overuse injuries, or muscle strains, are orthopedic problems often seen in children who participate in sports. Immature and growing bones, as well as performing the wrong training exercises, the wrong shoes, or difficult playing surfaces can all contribute to muscle strain. Shin splints, or pain along the inner tibial border of the lower leg, is a type of overuse injury. The usual treatment is rest, ice, and pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Severe muscle strain may require crutches or a brace until the injury has healed.

Scoliosis is another common orthopedic problem among older children and adolescents. The normal spine is relatively straight; in scoliosis, however, the spine has an o-shaped curvature c. The exact cause of scoliosis is unknown. This condition tends to worsen during periods of growth spurts. It can be treated surgically or with a special brace.

Children can break their collarbones or humerus bones. The most common cause is falling onto outstretched arms. Clavicle fractures are usually treated non-surgically with a sling to immobilize the injury and x-ray monitoring for several weeks. Humeral fractures also require immobilization in a brace or cast. Pain relievers can be taken if necessary.

The main orthopedic problems in adults include low back pain and osteoarthritis. Low back pain can be caused by muscle strain due to improper lifting. It can also be caused by spinal degeneration. One type of spinal degeneration occurs in the spinal discs. Damaged discs, with or without herniation, can cause pain if the nerve root is compressed. Treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, weight loss, and sometimes surgery.

Normal cartilage acts as a shock absorber between two joints. As the cartilage is damaged, the bones begin to scrape against each other, causing the inflammation, pain, and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Almost all adults have some form of osteoarthritis by age 70. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis affects the hips, hands, knees, lower back and neck the most. Treatments range from over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to cortisone injections, weight loss, or other lifestyle changes.

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