What Exactly Do Orthopaedic Surgeons Do?

Orthopaedic surgeons are devoted to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.  In medical parlance, the discipline of orthopaedics is concerned with the axial and
appendicular skeleton and its related structures. For the rest of us, well, we’re just glad to know there’s someone qualified to help us when we break a leg. 

We may meet our first orthopaedic surgeon should our new born require assistance for Spinal Bifida or clubbed feet. Others become acquainted with these experts after sustaining an injury.  From sprains to inflammations to overuse or degeneration, it’s the orthopaedic surgeon we seek. The health and wellbeing of our bones and joints determine much of our human functionality. 

In the land of orthopaedics, imaging services such as MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computerised Tomography) scans are essential tools for diagnosing what is hidden from sight. Orthoscopy techniques enable
inserting a tiny camera lens in keyhole exploratory surgery to see more precisely and determine the best way forward.

Whether due to a long-term condition or a sudden injury, the level of pain and discomfort sends us straight to the arms of our trusted orthopaedic surgeon. Our musculoskeletal system is complex and intricate. Top-notch care makes all the difference to how well we recover. 

orthopadeic surgeons

Breaking Down The Basics

A brief 101 on musculoskeletal anatomy helps us appreciate the need and skill of the orthopaedic surgeon. So, here goes.

  • Bones – we have some 206 in the adult skeleton. Bone is described as a biologically active tissue with a blood supply. 
  • Joints – we have around 230 joints in the adult body. Joints basically describe the meeting of the bones.
  • Cartilage – serves to cushions the joints. Without nerves or blood supply, cartilage cannot repair itself. Arthritis is a disease of the cartilage. In full-blown arthritic conditions, joint replacement is indicated. Damage occurs from overuse, acute trauma or degeneration over time.
  • Ligaments- help stabilize the joints and connect bone to bone.
  • Muscles – we have 640 in our musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic surgeons know that muscle tissue can heal on its own in a few instances, but usually, their help is required.
  • Tendons – connect the muscle to the bone.

Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeons

A specialist orthopaedic surgeon is further qualified to work in more particular areas of the body than a general orthopaedic surgeon. Speciality areas are:

Hands, Wrist & Forearm

The human hand is unique and serves many and varied purposes. We need our hands to function at their best. That means they respond to sensation, have good joint movement, with healthy tendons and muscles. Watch a talented
guitarist or pianist for example to see the dexterity they exhibit. Repetitive stress sometimes leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A clear case for a hand and upper extremity specialist orthopaedic surgeon. Forearm injuries are common
among children and sportspersons.

Foot & Ankle

Orthopaedic surgeons are fully aware that our feet are complex and vital to us. Keeping them flexible and robust is vital just for walking. But as it is, feet and ankles are often injured. Certain sports put the feet and ankles as risk despite training. Runners, skiers, ice skaters, ice hockey players, football and ballet, to name a few.


Specialist orthopaedic surgeons work on new-borns, babies and small children right through to the elderly. Spina deformity, sports injuries, fractures and replacements all fall into the jurisdiction of the orthopaedic surgeon.

Hip & Knees

Perhaps arthritis can be named the biggest culprit for our hip and knee troubles. Still, it is one of the most common operations performed on people between the ages of 60-80  years old. It is also among the most successful.

Shoulders & Elbows

Specialists in this area of orthopaedics involve all aspects of elbow and shoulder reconstruction. But that’s not all. Trauma and rotator cuff pathology, treatment for arthritis, instability a d sports medicine are the areas a shoulder and elbow specialist orthopaedic surgeon attends.

All orthopaedic surgeons are beginning to tackle the emerging issue of Smartphone Tendinitis. No joke! Chances are we were never intended to become glued to our smartphones. Handling them for lengthy periods, often at awkward angles, has led to trigger thumb and trigger finger syndrome, wrist and forearm irritation, which is known as ‘DeQuervain’s tendinosis’. Arms, neck and shoulders have been overstressed as people routinely type hundreds of text messages on a daily basis. 

The bottom line is we can’t do without orthopaedic surgeons. Their work on the human skeletal environment is unparalleled and vitally needed. Through overuse, stress, injury, birth defect, disease or degeneration, when we suffer pain in the areas of orthopaedic jurisdiction it is then that we value those who studied so hard to understand the mechanisms of the human body. It is never too early to acquaint ourselves with a reputable orthopaedic surgeon to whom we can turn in our hour of need. 

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