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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 4

Joint Problems

little girl eatingAnother type of orthopedic condition is joint problems. Joint problems in toddlers include arthritis, and those acquired through maladaptive postures and movements associated with cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, developmental hip dysplasia, and joint laxity.

  • Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of joints.
  • Arthrogryposis is a non-progressive disorder that is manifest with symptoms of joint contractures that begin prenatally with resulting muscle weakness around the involved joints.
  • Developmental Hip Dysplasia is very amenable to treatment if detected early. In layman's terms, developmental hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip bones slip in and out of their sockets. This can lead to severe orthopedic problems if not detected. Newborns are screened for the condition by physical examination, but diagnosis is often not made until later in infancy because it would be inappropriate to routinely screen newborns with MRIs and other methods that might be used with an older child. The ITDS can learn more about the early detection of developmental dysplasia of the hip and the difficulty that the primary medical provider has in making this diagnosis. This practice guideline can be found at AAP Practice Guideline on Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
  • Joint Laxity is a looseness of the joints sometimes associated with certain syndromes such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Ehlers-Danlos is a rare defect of the connective tissue that may be found in skin, muscles, joints and ligaments. The main characteristics of the syndrome are loose joints, hyperextensibility, dislocations, and fragile skin. There are ten distinct forms of the syndrome dependent on signs and symptoms (Jones, 1997). The disorder is rare, occurring in 1:10,000 individuals. Information on the condition can be found at Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation Joint laxity may also be associated with other syndromes such as Down syndrome.

Consider how the ITDS can assist the team, including the family, when working with a child with joint problems? Do you have some ideas?

Are there resources for rare neurological and orthopedic conditions that would be helpful to the ITDS and families they serve?


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