What do sports injuries, arthritis, sprained ankles, and stiff necks all have in common? You guessed right – they all need the services of an Orthopaedic Surgeon. But what is an Orthopaedic Surgeon? And when would you need their services?
What is an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
As a specialist medical doctor, an orthopaedic surgeon treats musculoskeletal conditions. According to Wikipedia, “Orthopedic surgery or orthopedics, also spelled orthopaedic[s], is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders.”
This is a diverse and fascinating field, and many Orthopaedic Surgeons opt to specialise in a particular area. For example, paediatrics is a field which allows this dedicated group to focus their efforts on children. From newborn babies up to late teens. While specialists and non-specialists alike all have an innate understanding of bones, joints and muscles, treating children requires understanding the needs of growing bodies as well as infections and injuries common to children.
Sports medicine is another speciality field which some pursue. From the recreational sportsman to the high-level athlete, sports medicine in orthopaedics focuses on minimally invasive procedures, as far as possible, as well as injury prevention. Arthroscopy is a preferred surgical procedure when you are working to reduce recovery time, blood loss, and pain in a patient.
What Problems Does An Orthopaedic Surgeon Treat?
Orthopaedic surgeons are responsible for treating a wide variety of medical issues. Basically, anything relating to joints, bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles will fall into their scope. These would include:
Trauma – Tears, fractures or breaks of muscles, tendons and bones.
Disease – Arthritis, osteoporosis, tumours, muscular dystrophy, scoliosis and cerebral palsy.
Abnormalities – Club foot, growth and digit irregularities, bunions, and bowed legs.
If you are suffering from pain and discomfort, you may be experiencing issues which are yet to be diagnosed. For instance, you may have trouble climbing stairs; you may experience joint or muscle pain that lasts for more than a couple of days; your range of motion may be limited in one or more of your joints; back and neck stiffness is a constant concern or you may be experiencing inflammation in a certain joint or muscle.
Very often, we live with pain which we have just gotten used to. It’s important to realise that if we are in pain, whether chronic or acute, it’s probably pointing to a larger problem that needs attention. Leaving musculoskeletal problems alone seldom solves them!
A visit to a good orthopaedic surgeon will start with a personal discussion about your needs, your physical activity and your medical history. A physical examination will follow. And, depending on your problem, x-rays or other diagnostic procedures may be required to explore the full depth of your issue.
What Procedures Does an Orthopaedic Surgeon Perform?
While Orthopaedic Surgeons are exactly that – surgeons – a good practitioner will only use surgery as a last resort. Educating patients on ways to avoid injury in the first instance is the best start. Prevention is definitely better than cure!
In addition, if an injury or condition can be treated using exercise or other suitable physical therapies, or medication, then that would be preferable to surgery. Knowing exactly what the problem is means treatment can be fast and effective. For example, knowing that you only have a sprain which can be treated with an ice pack, as opposed to a fracture which requires a little more specialised treatment, speeds up your recovery time and reduces pain.
However, often surgery is required as a necessary fix to a bigger problem.
Arthroscopy is a preferred method of treating and diagnosing joint problems. It uses a scope and small incisions to see inside the joint. Minor surgery can be performed through these incisions.
Osteotomy may involve removing a piece of bone or positioning it to perform better. Joint replacement is a major surgical procedure and would occur when a damaged or diseased joint requires complete replacement.
Sports medicine often brings bone trauma to the doctor’s office which requires fusion or internal fixation to keep the bones in place while they heal, or as a permanent solution to the damaged area.
Orthopaedic surgeons would also attend to soft tissue repairs such as sprains or tears in muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
So if you were asking the question; what is an orthopaedic surgeon, now you know. Are you an active, sporty person? There is a good chance that you may need a little care from an Orthopaedic Surgeon near you. If you’re looking for a qualified and family focused doctor then we’d love to hear from you.
Contact us today.