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Orthopedic Conditions: Newborns

Common Orthopedic Problems Found in Babies


Updated February 14, 2009

There are several unique orthopedic problems that affect newborns. Your baby's pediatrician will look for these common conditions, and possibly refer your child to a pediatric orthopedic specialist if there is any concern.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a problem that causes the hip joint to form abnormally. When a baby is born, the hip joint is still forming; therefore, when hip dysplasia is found early, there is a better chance of successful treatment. When the ball-and-socket of the hip joint is not in proper position, the joint will not develop normally. Treatment of hip dysplasia in newborns is usually accomplished by holding the hip in proper position with a brace.


Clubfoot is a condition that causes the feet to point down and inward. Because the foot is held into an abnormal position, the development of the foot bones and joints will be abnormal. Fortunately, when treatment is initiated early, there is a good chance of correcting the problem without surgery.

Metatarsus Adductus

Metatarsus adductus is a foot condition where the toes and forefoot point inwards. The foot takes on a typical 'bean-shaped' appearance. Treatment of metatarsus adductus is almost always successful with simple observation, with over 90% of feet improving spontaneously.

Birth Injury

Birth injuries are most common around the shoulder. Injuries to the nerves around the shoulder (brachial plexus injuries) and clavicle fractures are the most commonly seen problems. Other types of fractures, such as femur fractures, can also be seen. Fortunately, most of these injuries will heal with a simple splint, or no treatment at all.

Joint Infections

Infections of the joint, called a septic joint, are a worrisome problem in newborns. Diagnosis of a joint infection is difficult because the child may not have abnormal blood test, may not have a high fever, and cannot tell you what hurts. Infections within a joint require prompt treatment to prevent possibly permanent damage to joint cartilage.
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