Orthopedic Surgery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures and Repair

achilles tendonThe Achilles tendon connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. There are two basic variations of Achilles injuries: Achilles tendonitis, and a complete tear. It’s important to know whether the Achilles is torn or not, because the treatment is very different: a torn Achilles may require surgery; Achilles tendonitis probably means rehab and rest. While tendonitis is a gradual onset of pain that tends to get worse with more activity, an Achilles tear is a sudden injury, and it feels as if you were hit or kicked in the back of the ankle. A tear usually affects your ability to walk properly.

Because an Achilles tendon rupture can impair your ability to walk, it’s common to seek immediate treatment. You may also need to consult with doctors specializing in sports medicine or orthopaedic surgery.

Tests and Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will inspect your lower leg for tenderness and swelling. In many cases, doctors can feel a gap in your tendon if a complete rupture has occurred. Achilles tendon rupture can be diagnosed reliably with clinical examination, but if there’s a question about the extent of your Achilles tendon injury then your doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Repair

The best treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon in an active individual is typically surgery. While an Achilles rupture can sometimes be treated with a cast, splint, brace, or other device that will keep your lower leg from moving, surgery provides less chance that the tendon will rupture again and offers more strength and a shorter recovery period. Surgery may be delayed for a period of a week after the rupture, to let the swelling go down.

There are two types of surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon and both involve the surgeon sewing the tendon back together through the incision(s):

  • Open surgery – the surgeon makes a single large incision in the back of the leg.
  • Percutaneous surgery – the surgeon makes a number of small incisions rather than one large incision.

Depending on the condition of the torn tissue, the repair may be reinforced with other tendons.

Rehabilitation

After treatment, whether surgical or nonsurgical, you’ll go through a rehabilitation program involving physical therapy exercises to strengthen your leg muscles and Achilles tendon. Most people return to daily activity within four to six months, though high-impact athletes may take up to a year to return to sport.

About Dr. Labib

Sam Labib, MDSam Labib, MD, is a sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeon and director of the foot and ankle service at Emory. Dr. Labib started practicing at Emory in 1999. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery.

He has lectured both nationally and internationally at many orthopedic meetings. His research has been published in several journals, including the JBJS, Arthroscopy, Foot and Ankle International and the American Journal of Orthopedics as well as numerous video presentations and book chapters. Dr. Labib is Board Certified in orthopedic surgery with additional subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine Surgery.

For the past 5 years, Dr. Labib has been nominated by his peers as one of “America’s Top Doctors” as tracked by CastleConnelly.com. Dr. Labib has a particular interest in problems and procedures of the knee, ankle, and foot. He is the head team physician for the athletic programs at Oglethorpe University and Spelman College, and an orthopaedic consultant to the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech and Emory University.

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Torn Meniscus and Torn Meniscus Surgery

Torn MeniscusWhen people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring to a torn meniscus. The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions your knee and acts as a shock absorber between your thighbone and shinbone. Each knee has two menisci, which help to keep your knee steady by balancing your weight across the knee.

Any person at any time can tear their meniscus, but athletes—particularly those who play contact sports—tend to be at a higher risk, the reason being that a meniscus tear is usually caused by twisting or turning quickly, often with the foot planted while the knee is bent. Players may squat and twist the knee, causing a tear.

As you get older, your meniscus gets worn which can make it tear more easily. Cartilage weakens and wears thin over time, increasing the likelihood of degenerative meniscal tears. One awkward twist when getting up from a chair may be enough to cause a tear, if the menisci have weakened with age.

Torn Meniscus Symptoms
Depending on the severity of the tear, symptoms will vary. Typically meniscal tears are categorized into three groups: minor, moderate and major tears. Generally, most people can still walk on their injured knee after a meniscal tear, but you may feel a “pop” when you tear a meniscus. Often athletes will keep playing with a tear, but over the course of two to three days the knee will likely become stiff and swollen.

Common symptoms of meniscal tears include the following:

  • Feeling a “pop” in the knee
  • Pain
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Inability to move knee through full range of motion (such as not being able to straighten the knee)
  • Catching or locking of the knee
  • The sensation of the knee feeling “wobbly” or giving way without warning

In severe tears and those without proper treatment, a piece of meniscus may come loose and drift into the joint, causing your knee to slip, pop, or catch.

Torn Meniscus Diagnosis and Treatment
When diagnosing a meniscal tear, doctors will often perform what is known as a McMurray test. Your doctor will bend your knee, then straighten and rotate it. This puts tension on a torn meniscus. If you have a meniscal tear, this movement will cause a clicking sound. Your doctor may also order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm the meniscal tear.

How your doctor treats your meniscus tear depends on several things, such as the type of tear, where it is, and how serious it is. Your age and how active you are may also affect your treatment choices.

Common treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as aspirin or ibuprofen)
  • Surgery

Surgical Treatment
Whenever possible, meniscus surgery is done using arthroscopy, rather than through a large cut in the knee. Knee arthroscopy is a commonly performed surgical procedure in which a miniature camera is inserted through a small incision to better view the knee. Your orthopaedic surgeon will then insert miniature surgical instruments through other small incisions to trim or repair the tear.

Depending on the tear, a variety of procedures can be done:

  • Meniscectomy. In this procedure, the damaged meniscal tissue is trimmed away (partial meniscectomy) or, in extreme cases, the entire meniscus will be removed (total meniscectomy). Total meniscectomy procedures are typically avoided because of the likelihood of causing osteoarthritis in the knee.
  • Meniscus repair. Some meniscal tears can be repaired by suturing (stitching) the torn pieces together.

It is preferable to preserve as much of the meniscus as possible. If the meniscus can be repaired successfully, saving the injured meniscus by doing a meniscal repair reduces the occurrence of knee joint degeneration compared with partial or total removal.

Recovery / Rehabilitation
How well the knee will heal depends on how bad the tear is. After surgery, your doctor may put your knee in a cast or brace to keep it from moving, and you may need to be on crutches for a period of time to keep weight off the knee. Your doctor will work with you on a rehabilitation program that helps you regain as much strength and flexibility as possible.

About Dr. Pombo

Mathew Pombo, MDMathew Pombo, MD, is a highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon, speaker, author and researcher who specializes in getting patients with injuries back to an active lifestyle. His professional interests include anatomic single and double bundle ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, meniscal/cartilage injury and repair, joint preservation in the aging athlete, and minimally invasive joint replacement surgery of the knee and shoulder. Dr. Pombo has conducted extensive scientific research, published multiple journal articles, written several book chapters, and has presented both at national and international meetings on topics related to sports medicine, concussions, and orthopaedic surgery. He is a member of several design teams for orthopaedic companies and enjoys participating in the engineering of the next generation of orthopaedic techniques and equipment. He has been instrumental in bringing awareness to Sports Related Concussions and the new Georgia “Return to Play” Act and is one of the top regarded experts in the area for the treatment of Concussions. He currently serves as the Director of the Emory Sports Concussion Program.

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How is Arthroscopic Hip Surgery Different?

ArthroscopyArthroscopy (also called Arthroscopic surgery) is a surgical procedure by which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis (and possibly treated) using an instrument called an arthroscope. Arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of a joint, and helps them diagnose and treat joint problems. Hip arthroscopy has been slower to evolve than arthroscopy of other joints such as the knee or shoulder, mostly because the hip joint is much deeper in the body and therefore harder to access, but can be very effective at treating certain hip conditions.

Arthroscopic hip surgery is radically different than traditional open surgery, and may be considered before one opts for a full hip replacement surgery. Non-operative measures should always be considered first — rest, behavior modification, physical therapy and anti-inflammatories may work to alleviate reversible disorders. If non-operative measures aren’t effective and you do elect for surgery, a procedure may be done arthroscopically instead of by traditional surgical techniques, as it usually causes less tissue trauma, may result in less pain, and may promote a quicker recovery.

Hip Replacement Surgery 101

hip replacementThe hip is one of the body’s largest and most important joints. It allows us to walk, run and jump, and bears our body’s weight and the force of the muscles of the hip and leg. If your hip has been severely damaged—by a fracture, arthritis, osteonecrosis or other conditions–common activities such as walking or getting in and out of a chair may be painful and difficult. You may even feel uncomfortable while resting.

If other alternatives such as medications, the use of walking supports, or changes to daily activities do not effectively help your symptoms, hip replacement may be a viable solution and you should consult with your physician to learn more. Generally, hip replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure that can help you get back to enjoying everyday activities.

Understanding Rotationplasty – Alternative to Limb Sparing Surgery

Rotationplasty Child Limb Sparing Surgery AlternativeRotationplasty is a surgical option for young children who have been diagnosed with a variety of malignant or benign conditions. Rotationplasty is most commonly used as a treatment option for osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma in the distal femur or proximal tibia. This procedure can also be used in the proximal femur for rotationplasty in the hip, but this is much less common than the knee.

In rotationplasty, the bone cancer and surrounding tissues are removed and the remaining lower section of the leg is rotated before reattaching to the healthy upper section.  Rotationplasty is typically recommended when a portion of the limb is injured or diseased.

During the leg rotationplasty procedure, the ankle becomes the knee joint.  A prosthesis is built that allows the foot and ankle to function as the patient’s knee.  This prosthesis is different than a typical prosthetic device since it requires consideration of an anatomical ankle to act as the knee.  The ankle (new knee) requires structural support so that the patient does not overextend the ankle.  Prosthetic fit and function are very critical and should only be performed by a skilled prosthetist.

Patients who undergo rotationplasty as a surgical option for treatment require intensive physical therapy to gain motion and strength in the reconstructed limb. A physical therapist and prosthetist who are skilled in this specific design/procedure should work very closely with the patient’s orthopedic surgeon to guide the exercise program and prosthetic fitting.

Other surgical options for young patients with sarcomas such as osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma are:

When making the decision whether to receive rotationplasty versus the other treatment options, parents should take into consideration the age of the child, the location and size of the cancer, medical diagnosis and prognosis as well as the “functional outcomes” that the parents/child/physician agree on.

Rotationplasty is a good option for young patients who have not finished growing and have a malignant bone tumor around the knee joint.  Because their legs have not grown completely, the leg length difference will not be as great.  Also, the young patient will be able to run and jump and keep up with their friends and classmates.  The patient can participate in most sports even those with jumping and high impact.  Because the ankle joint is a natural joint functioning as the “new knee,” the patient has greater control of the “knee” with sensation of how it is moving as well as the position of the knee as the patient walks and runs.

At Emory Orthopaedics & Spine, we work closely with the resources at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, one of the largest childhood cancer programs in the country. Our continuum of care features pediatric experts in orthopedic surgery, radiation oncology, social work, case management, physical therapy and prosthetics.

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About the Experts

Dr. David MonsonAbout Dr. Monson
David K. Monson, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University Hospital Midtown, started practicing at Emory in 1988. Dr. Monson is an expert in the treatment of rare tumors (sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue). Dr. Monson’s specialties are Orthopaedic Surgery (Board certified since 1990) and Orthopaedic Oncology. His areas of clinical interest are orthopaedic tumors, sarcoma, and limb reconstruction.

 

Dr. Shervin OskoueiAbout Dr. Oskouei
Shervin V. Oskouei, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University, is an expert in the treatment of musculoskeletal (extremity) tumors, total hip and total knee replacements and revisions. Dr. Oskouei started practicing at Emory in 2004. Dr. Oskouei is board-certified and fellowship trained in orthopaedic surgery. Combining his experience and interests with the state-of-the-art facilities of Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University allows Dr. Oskouei to treat patients with the latest modalities using a multi-disciplinary approach.

About Emory Orthopaedic Oncology
Dr. Monson and Dr. Oskouei lead the Emory Musculoskeletal Oncology and Limb Reconstruction program at Emory.  The world – class program treats a variety of conditions, including benign and malignant tumors of the extremities and spine, as well as metastatic disease. Together, they offer a combined 34 years of clinical practice experience. They care for both pediatric and adult aged patients.

Both of these physicians belong to the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society which requires fellowship training in orthopaedic oncology.  Physicians belonging to this group must also have a primary clinical focus in orthopaedic oncology.  This is important for patients because it means the specialist you are seeing has had extra training in this area and is viewed by peers as an expert in the care of orthopaedic oncology. Patients should take the time to research physicians in their area to determine if they are seeing an orthopaedic oncology specialist that belongs to this organization.

What is an Osteosarcoma and What is the Best Way to Treat it?

Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are rare conditions that affect approximately 13,000 people each year. In the US, 10,000 are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas and approximately 3,000 are diagnosed with bone sarcomas, of which 1,000 are osteosarcomas.

The most common type of sarcoma that develops in the bone is called an osteosarcoma while sarcomas that develop in the connective tissue are called soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues. The rarity of sarcomas means most doctors seldom see one, which explains why patients are often referred to specialty hospitals where experienced surgeons utilize limb-sparing (no amputation) surgery whenever possible.

Understanding Osteosarcomas

Osteosarcomas are aggressive malignant bone tumors and are the most common type of bone cancer in young people. They usually occur between the ages of 10 and 25, but can occur at any age and are more common in males than females. They encompass about 20% of all primary bone cancers and it is estimated that the incidence rate in U.S. patients under 20 years of age is 5 per million. Osteosarcomas most commonly start in the ends of long bones of the arms or legs where new bone tissue rapidly forms.

Symptoms of Osteosarcoma

  • Pain near the affected bone is the most common osteosarcoma symptom
  • Swelling of the bones and joints. Noticeable swelling or protrusion near the location of the tumor
  • Brittleness/weakness of the bone which can lead to fractures
  • Difficulty moving during physical activity
  • Noticeable limp when the osteosarcoma is in the leg

Treatment for Osteosarcoma

Typically chemotherapy is given to shrink the tumor before surgery. Most often, chemotherapy results in a necrosis (or death) of the tumor and allows the physician to treat possible cells in the blood stream. In most cases, surgery is required to remove the section of cancerous bone. Limb sparing surgery (LSS) is a special operative procedure performed by oncology orthopedic surgeons and has become the accepted standard of care for patients with sarcomas of the extremities. Limb sparing surgery can be accomplished in approximately 90% of the cases. During limb sparing surgery, the cancer in the bone is removed surgically and the portion of the bone that was removed is either replaced with special metal prostheses or a bone allograft. An allograft is a bone transplant obtained sterilely from a person that has died and agreed to be an organ donor. Emory Orthopaedic surgeons have mastered the limb-sparing surgery in order to save as much bone as possible without compromising the ability to cure the patient.

Emory offers a unique multi – disciplinary treatment approach to bone sarcoma care. Emory Orthopaedic oncology surgeons collaborate with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologist, radiologists, thoracic surgeons, plastic surgeons and vascular surgeons to develop a treatment plan catered to each individual patient.


Dr. David MonsonAbout Dr. Monson
David K. Monson, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University Hospital Midtown, started practicing at Emory in 1988. Dr. Monson is an expert in the treatment of rare tumors (sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue). Dr. Monson’s specialties are Orthopaedic Surgery (Board certified since 1990) and Orthopaedic Oncology. His areas of clinical interest are orthopaedic tumors, sarcoma, and limb reconstruction.

 

Dr. Shervin OskoueiAbout Dr. Oskouei
Shervin V. Oskouei, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University, is an expert in the treatment of musculoskeletal (extremity) tumors, total hip and total knee replacements and revisions. Dr. Oskouei started practicing at Emory in 2004. Dr. Oskouei is board-certified and fellowship trained in orthopaedic surgery. Combining his experience and interests with the state-of-the-art facilities of Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University allows Dr. Oskouei to treat patients with the latest modalities using a multi-disciplinary approach.

About Emory Orthopaedic Oncology
Dr. Monson and Dr. Oskouei lead the Emory Musculoskeletal Oncology and Limb Reconstruction program at Emory. The world – class program treats a variety of conditions, including benign and malignant tumors of the extremities and spine, as well as metastatic disease. Together, they offer a combined 34 years of clinical practice experience. They care for both pediatric and adult aged patients.

Both of these physicians belong to the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society which requires fellowship training in orthopaedic oncology. Physicians belonging to this group must also have a primary clinical focus in orthopaedic oncology. This is important for patients because it means the specialist you are seeing has had extra training in this area and is viewed by peers as an expert in the care of orthopaedic oncology. Patients should take the time to research physicians in their area to determine if they are seeing an orthopaedic oncology specialist that belongs to this organization.

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Osteoarthritis Pain Treatment – Using your own Stem Cells?

hip resurfacing procedureIt is reality now! Physicians at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine are among a select group of physicians around the country to offer a unique procedure using stem cell injections to relieve osteoarthritis (OA) pain. During the procedure, the physician extracts stem cell blood from the bone marrow in a patient’s hip and then injects the stem cells directly into the patient’s damaged joint. The stem cells are from the patient’s own body so the risk of rejection is very low.

Hear first hand from Dr. Mautner and one of our patients how this new treatment option is helping relieve pain from Osteoarthritis:

About Ken Mautner, MD

Ken Mautner, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Mautner started practicing at Emory in 2004 after completing a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in PM&R with a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine. Dr. Mautner currently serves as head team physician for Agnes Scott College and St. Pius High School and a team physician for Emory University Athletics. He is also a consulting physician for Georgia Tech Athletics, Neuro Tour, and several local high schools. He has focused his clinical interest on sports concussions, where he is regarded as a local and regional expert in the field. In 2005, he became one of the first doctors in Georgia to use office based neuropsychological testing to help determine return to play recommendations for athletes. He also is an expert in diagnostic and interventional musculoskeletal ultrasound and teaches both regional and national courses on how to perform office based ultrasound. He regularly performs Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for patients with chronic tendinopathy. Dr. Mautner also specializes in the care of athletes with spine problems as well as hip and groin injuries.

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Tennis Elbow & PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Therapy – Is it Right for Me?

Tennis Elbow PDFEmory Sports Medicine Center orthopedist, Dr. R. Amadeus Mason, recently spoke with the team from CNN about a study involving people with tennis elbow and the effectiveness of the treatment options. Check out this story to see what Dr. Mason recommends for treating tennis elbow.

Another treatment option available for chronic tendinitis like tennis elbow is Plasma Rich Platelet therapy, also know as PRP. The Emory sports medicine physicians use PRP to treat patients with chronic tendinitis or arthritis symptoms. Typically the patient will have tried other treatment options such as physical therapy, medications, and refraining from activity before being considered for PRP.

Dr. Mason explains, “PRP treatment is innovative because it takes a patient’s own blood and targets a specific area and harnesses its healing ability and allows us to treat specific types of injuries that otherwise would not be able to treat effectively.”

Typically during a PRP injection, a patient’s blood is drawn from his arm and transferred to a centrifuge machine where it spins the blood for about 15 minutes. The spinning separates the platelets from the other components of the blood. Using an ultrasound machine, the platelets are injected back into the patient into the damaged, painful area of the body.

Dr. Ken Mautner adds, “For the first time we can do a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure where we are just drawing blood from your arm and injecting right to the area of damage and actually get the body to heal itself without the need for a scalpel or any significant bed-rest or downtime.”

Watch this short video of Beth, an Emory Sports Medicine patient with tennis elbow. Beth tried several treatment options but in the end, PRP therapy allowed her to again be pain free and get back to the active lifestyle she wants to live.

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About R. Amadeus Mason, MD
Dr. Amadeus MasonDr. Mason is an assistant professor in the Orthopaedics and Family Medicine departments at Emory University. He is board certified in Sports Medicine with a special interest in track and field, running injuries and exercise testing. He has been trained in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection. Dr. Mason is Team Physician for USA Track and Field and the National Scholastic Sports Foundation Track and Field and Cross Country meets, Tucker High School, and Georgia Tech Track and Field.Dr. Mason is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the America Road Racing Medical Society, and the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine and Science Committee. He has been invited to be a resident physician at the US Olympic Training Center, a Sports Medicine consultant in his homeland of Jamaica and the Chief Medical Officer at multiple USA Track and Field international competitions. He has also been a frequently featured guest CNN’s fit nation commenting on a wide variety of topics related to athletics and running injuries. Dr. Mason attended Princeton University and was Captain of the track team.

Dr. Mason is an active member of the Atlanta running community. He attended Princeton University and was Captain of the track team. His other sports interests include soccer, college basketball and football, and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). A Decatur resident, he is married with three children.

About Ken Mautner, MD
Ken Mautner, MDKen Mautner, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Mautner started practicing at Emory in 2004 after completing a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in PM&R with a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine. Dr. Mautner currently serves as head team physician for Agnes Scott College and St. Pius High School and a team physician for Emory University Athletics. He is also a consulting physician for Georgia Tech Athletics, Neuro Tour, and several local high schools. He has focused his clinical interest on sports concussions, where he is regarded as a local and regional expert in the field. In 2005, he became one of the first doctors in Georgia to use office based neuropsychological testing to help determine return to play recommendations for athletes. He also is an expert in diagnostic and interventional musculoskeletal ultrasound and teaches both regional and national courses on how to perform office based ultrasound. He regularly performs Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for patients with chronic tendinopathy. Dr. Mautner also specializes in the care of athletes with spine problems as well as hip and groin injuries.

Get the Facts about the Orthopaedic Considerations for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability during childhood. It is a life-long condition that affects the communication between the brain and the muscles and the condition can cause a variety of motor disabilities and issues. Disability resulting from cerebral palsy can be very mild, with the child appearing to be a little clumsy, to more severe, where the child may be unable to walk. Despite the difficulty with motor control/movement, many children with cerebral palsy have normal intelligence.

Common Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy include:

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary depending on the type of cerebral palsy, degree of disability, and how each child experiences these symptoms.

• Muscle weakness
• Difficulty controlling the arms or legs
• Shaking of the arms or legs (called spasticity)
• Muscle stiffness in the legs
• Clenched fists

Causes of Cerebral Palsy 
The cause of cerebral palsy is often unknown, but there are some links to premature birth, severe jaundice after birth, and an injury to the brain. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, talk to your pediatrician at your routine visit.

Unfortunately there is no cure for cerebral palsy right now. The best course of action is to manage the symptoms with a team of specialists including an orthopedic surgeon. At Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center, when it comes to pediatric patients coping with cerebral palsy, we focus on preventing or minimizing deformities.

Orthopaedic Considerations & Risks From Cerebral Palsy:

Limb Shortening 
As a child develops, some children will develop a shortening of the leg and arm on only one side of the body. The difference between the legs can be up to two inches. If the parent notices a shortening, please contact a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who will be able to help determine the degree of difference between the legs and recommend appropriate treatment options. The surgeon may recommend a heel lift that is to be worn in the child’s shoes. A heel lift may also help prevent problems in the hip and spine. A leg length difference left untreated could eventually lead to a curvature of the spine called scoliosis.

Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine and is very common in children with cerebral palsy. One in five children with CP will have scoliosis so it is very important to see a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon to help monitor it. Scoliosis is usually mild and will not need anything more than regular observation by your doctor. Occasionally scoliosis can worsen and require more extensive treatments.

At the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center, we typically use non-operative treatments such as modification of a wheelchair, bracing or casting to minimize the worsening of scoliosis before we consider surgical treatments. Surgery is typically reserved for more severe cases of scoliosis. Emory pediatric orthopaedists Dr. Robert Bruce, Jr. and Dr. Nicholas Fletcher have extensive experience with growing rod and Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) for the management of severe scoliosis in young patients. These techniques allow for continued growth of the spine in younger children to allow normal development and function. Some older children may need true spinal fusion surgery in order to stop the spine from curving.

Joint Problems
In children with cerebral palsy, it is often difficult to prevent “contracture,” an extreme stiffening of the joints caused by the unequal pull of one muscle over the other. The child will usually work with his or her care team to learn how to stretch the muscles to try to help prevent the joints from stiffening. The orthopaedic surgeon may also recommend braces, casting, or medication to improve mobility in the child’s muscles and joints. Occasionally contractures may begin to cause significant problems in the joints such as an inability to straighten out the leg and stand or a hip which may slide out of the socket. These are problems best managed by a surgeon with lengthening of tendons or perhaps a joint realignment surgery.

Foot Problems
Children with cerebral palsy will often also have difficulties with their feet due to the unequal pull of one muscle over another. These can result in problems with things as basic as getting a shoe on to walking or running. Most patients can be managed with physical therapy or possibly a special brace to hold the foot in a better position. Problems that are more severe may require surgery to rebalance the muscles in the foot or realign the foot so that it functions better.

If you have additional questions about Cerebral Palsy and its implications for pediatric patients, please leave them for us in the comments below.

About the Authors

About Robert Bruce, Jr., MD
Dr. Bruce has been a fixture in the Atlanta community for 17 years having started practicing at Emory in 1995. He is the director of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) cerebral palsy program and has a tremendous experience caring for all types of orthopaedic conditions in children with cerebral palsy from the spine to the hips to the feet. Dr. Bruce is also specialty trained in Ilizarov and the treatment of leg length differences and angular deformities. Outside of his clinical duties, Dr. Bruce serves on the CHOA medical board, is the past medical director of Egleston campus, and is currently the head of the orthopaedic team at Egleston hospital.

About Nick Fletcher, MD
Dr. Fletcher has been practicing at Emory since 2010 and cares for all forms of pediatric spinal problems including adolescent scoliosis, neuromuscular scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, early onset scoliosis, kyphosis, and spondylolisthesis. 
He also has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally on his research in scoliosis. His work on adolescent scoliosis has been presented as far away as Japan and he has published multiple studies on early onset and adolescent scoliosis. He also received the 2010 T. Boone Pickens Award for Spinal research for his research in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Dr. Fletcher is a current member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America’s (POSNA) evidenced based medicine committee and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta spinal infection prevention taskforce. His current research on post operative care following spinal surgery will be presented at this year’s POSNA annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Fletcher also specializes in pediatric and young adult hip conditions including hip dysplasia, femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), perthes disease, avascular necrosis, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis. He is one of only a handful of surgeons in the southeast with expertise in the Ganz or periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) for hip dysplasia and the modified Dunn osteotomy for slipped capital femoral epiphysis. He takes care of children of all ages with hip conditions in addition to young adults with hip dysplasia and impingement. He also has extensive experience in hip reconstruction for children with cerebral palsy and hip conditions such as dysplasia, subluxation, or dislocation.

Advancing the Possibilities in Orthopedic, Sports Medicine & Spine Care

Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital AtlantaEmory Healthcare is known for its strong focus on patients and families, as well as its sharp attention to detail in Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Spine Care. At Emory, we have the most highly trained orthopaedic and spine specialists in the country working together to diagnose and treat a wide variety of orthopaedic, spine and sports medicine conditions. Our physicians use innovative approaches to care – many of them pioneered via research right here at Emory – to ease your pain and get you back to the life you love. We bring all aspects of musculoskeletal diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation together in one location – from state-of-the-art CT and MRI to a world-class outpatient surgery center and physical therapy suite– at the Emory University Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital (EUOSH).

Many of our musculoskeletal inpatient procedures occur at EUOSH, which is unlike any other facility in Georgia. When planning for this hospital, doctors, nurses and patients presented their wish lists, and we worked tirelessly to bring our patients the care that set the standards and raises the bar higher than ever. The hospital has been completely renovated to provide our orthopaedic, spine and sports medicine patients with access to exceptional service and the most advanced, sophisticated technology tailored specifically to their unique needs. The combination of our unique facility amenities at EUOSH and our team’s dedication to truly patient- and family-centered care allow us to provide an unparalleled level of musculoskeletal care to the Atlanta and Georgia communities. Find out more in the video below:

We pride ourselves on being uniquely focused on patient satisfaction and comfort. In fact, we call upon 75 various patient committees and have adopted listening practices to ensure that we fully understand the needs of the patient. Further, we make it a point to avoid being married to any sort of protocol; for example, there’s no limit on patient visiting hours, and family members are welcome to sit with patients right up until the time of surgery.

Our efforts have not gone unnoticed—we’re proud to say that we have over a 90% satisfaction rate among our patients. Every room is equipped with everything a patient could possibly need for a comfortable recovery, including an interactive television that offers hospital information, a “my education” feature, access to the patient’s chart, health notes, and of course, regular TV channels and movie options.

Emory truly strives to exceed patient expectations every day. Learn more about our Orthopaedic, Spine and Sports Medicine care by watching this short video.