Orthopedics is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of your body's musculoskeletal system. This complex system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, allows you to move, work, and be active.
Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, orthopaedists now care for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet to young athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery to older people with arthritis. And anybody can break a bone.
Your Orthopaedic Surgeon
Orthopedic surgeons treat problems of the musculoskeletal system. This involves:
Diagnosis of your injury or disorder
Treatment with medication, exercise, casting, surgery or other options
Rehabilitation by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength and function
Prevention with information and treatment plans to prevent injury or slow the progression of disease
Your Doctor's Visit
Your orthopedic surgeon will take a history of your illness or injury and then do a physical examination. This may be followed by diagnostic studies such as x-rays or blood tests.
He or she will then discuss your diagnosis and help you select the best treatment plan so that you can live an active and functional life.
Orthopedic surgeons treat many musculoskeletal conditions without surgery—by using medication, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies.
For most orthopedic diseases and injuries there is more than one form of treatment. If necessary, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery if you do not respond to nonsurgical treatments.
Orthopedic surgeons perform numerous types of surgeries. Common procedures include:
Arthroscopy—a procedure that uses special cameras and equipment to visualize, diagnose and treat problems inside a joint.
Fusion—a "welding" process by which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods) to heal into a single solid bone.
Internal fixation—a method to hold the broken pieces of bone in proper position with metal plates, pins or screws while the bone is healing.
Joint replacement (partial, total and revision)—when an arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis.
Osteotomy—the correction of bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.
Soft tissue repair—the mending of soft tissue, such as torn tendons or ligaments.
Elbow replacement surgery
Minimally invasive surgery
Wrist fracture treatment