Musculoskeletal illness represents a significant portion of office visits to primary care physicians. Despite this, little emphasis is placed on learning pediatric orthopedics during medical school or residency. Many articles have been written on selected disorders, or approaches to common conditions, such as the limping child. Sometimes determining where to start and how to move toward a diagnosis prevents prompt evaluation, referral, and treatment. Based on the author's experience as a general pediatrician trained in, and exclusively practicing, nonoperative pediatric orthopedics, approaches to selected complaints related to the musculoskeletal system are presented. Emphasis is placed on conditions resulting in frequent consultation with pediatric orthopedists from pediatricians and other primary care practitioners, either in the office or over the phone. Important features that may not be familiar to the primary care physician are highlighted, including the identification of aspects that require further evaluation and indications for consultation. Guidance regarding in-office management is also provided.
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