Orthopedist: experience, specialties and training


A podiatrist, also called an orthopedic physician, orthopedic surgeon, or orthopedic surgeon, is a member of a medical team that specializes in the treatment and prevention of deformities of the skeletal and muscular system, including muscles, joints, bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. . … Someone may seek help from an orthopedist after severe pain, swelling, and deformity associated with a joint injury or severe sprains of muscles, ligaments, or other skeletal structures. Treatment by an orthopedic surgeon often focuses on surgery , postoperative healing or rehabilitation, and other conservative treatments.

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An orthopedic surgeon is an integral part of the medical team, as this medical professional plays an important role in the rehabilitation of various injuries. This healthcare provider closely monitors the patient's progress in rehabilitation treatments such as occupational therapy and physical therapy. Like any doctor, the podiatrist also assesses the need for other services and specialties to help the patient.

Orthopedists treat various diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Conditions that involve direct trauma or repetitive trauma from overuse of bones, joints, muscles, or tendons are best treated by a podiatrist.

Podiatrists can also treat common and chronic conditions, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
  • Tendinitis
  • Dysplasia (abnormal growth of cells in tissues)
  • Bursitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Paste
  • Contractures (stiffness or induration) of any joint, muscle, or bone in the body.

Joint replacement one of the most common reasons someone might see a podiatrist. Someone may need a joint replacement due to severe arthritis that causes the joint to no longer function properly. Joint replacement may also be necessary for those who have suffered a direct injury to the joint that cannot be surgically or non-surgically corrected by overlapping bone fractures.

A podiatrist can also treat more specific conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Scoliosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Bone spurs
  • Bursitis and hammer toes
  • Spinal fractures
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Rickets
  • Sciatic nerve dysfunction

Procedural experience

Podiatrists can treat a patient's ailments with non-surgical therapies, such as exercise advice and lifestyle changes, or with surgical techniques (depending on the injury or diagnosis), along with an evaluation that determines which techniques have been applied. previously. Surgical options include :

  • Arthroscopy – A robotic procedure that involves the use of cameras to diagnose and repair tears, swelling, and scarring in the joints.
  • Alloys and internal fixation of joints : Both use devices like metal rods, screws, plates, and pins to connect bone fragments. This connection of bone fragments helps to restore each individual part to its previous state – a single, fully connected bone.
  • Osteotomy : involves the dissection of the bone deformity for a more appropriate positioning.
  • Soft Tissue Repair – A surgical option that repairs torn, overstretched, or otherwise damaged tendons or ligaments.


Depending on the severity of the injury or the condition of the joint, joint replacement may be the most appropriate surgical option. The joint can be completely replaced (this is called a total joint replacement), partially replaced, or the joint can be revised.

Each of these joint replacement surgeries involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial version. The gasket to be replaced determines what material it is made of. The most load bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, are generally made of metals such as cobalt, chrome, stainless steel, and titanium. The smallest gaskets can be made of elastic plastic or ceramic .

Non-surgical treatments

Orthopedists are also trained in non-surgical treatment methods. These include prescribing medications, recommending a variety of exercises, and suggestions for lifestyle changes and modifications to help prevent injuries and deformities.

After the evaluation process, the podiatrist can also determine that the patient will benefit from rehabilitation treatments such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, or alternative therapy such as acupuncture. The orthopedist can refer to an appropriate referral to assist with the rehabilitation process, which will then be monitored by the orthopedist on subsequent visits.

Orthopedic tests

Podiatrists can perform various bone, joint, and muscle examinations to determine the root cause of the pain and diagnose the patient. These tests vary by joint, but the Nehr rotator cuff shock test is one example. This test is very general and simply shows rotator cuff impingement rather than problematic structures. For this reason, it must be combined with other shoulder tests.

Other examples of orthopedic tests are anterior and posterior drawer tests and valgus and varus stress tests on the knee ligaments. Again, these are preliminary tests that indicate the presence of ligament problems in the knee, which means that additional tests must be performed to make a definitive diagnosis.

The straight leg test can be used to assess nerve sensitivity, range of motion, and leg strength. Pain or sensory changes during this test may indicate a sciatic nerve condition or other problems with the joints and muscles of the legs.


Orthopedic surgery is a medical specialty; however, there are many complementary specialties in this area. These subspecialties include :

  • Orthopedic oncology
  • Total joint and reconstructive surgery
  • Spinal surgery
  • Foot and ankle surgery
  • Sports medicine
  • Orthopedic trauma
  • Hand surgery
  • Pediatric orthopedic surgery

Training and Certification

Orthopedic physicians must graduate from medical school to obtain physician certification and licensure. To treat patients and perform surgery, an orthopedic surgeon must meet all the requirements to become a healthcare provider. This includes completing a four-year bachelor's degree in science or health, completing a four-year academic course through medical school, and then a five- to six-year orthopedic residency in a hospital.

An orthopedist who successfully meets each of these requirements may have an MD or MD degree, depending on their name.

  • MD refers to a health care provider who is given to those who have graduated from medical school.
  • DO refers to a practicing osteopathic physician that is awarded to those who have graduated from an osteopathic medical school.

There are some differences in education for each of these professions, but they both have the same qualifications to treat patients as orthopedic surgeons.

These accreditation boards require orthopedists to display their certifications and credentials to demonstrate confidence in the patients they treat. It is important to look for these documents when entering a podiatrist's office to ensure they are practicing to the required standards.

Recording tips

You can get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon by visiting your PCP. If you experience more pain, swelling, tingling, difficulty walking, moving, or performing daily activities due to joint, bone, muscle, or tendon disease, your primary care physician will likely determine whether you need an exam and orthopedic treatment.

It is recommended that you record your symptoms before any visit to your doctor. This may include recording details of pain, swelling, loss of movement, strength, and the ability to sleep or participate in daily activities.

You should also take into account before taking:

  • When you experience symptoms (during the day, at night, while you sleep)
  • What activities make these symptoms worse (sitting, standing, exercising, bearing weight)?
  • The intensity or type of pain you are experiencing (burning, stabbing, dull, aching pain on a scale of 1 to 10).

It is also helpful to tell your podiatrist what treatments have or have not worked in the past. This will help your healthcare provider more effectively determine the best way to proceed.

If you do, take reports or pictures, such as X-rays or MRIs, with you when you visit your doctor. If you recently had a scan due to a recent diagnosis or a muscle or joint injury, it may have already been sent to your podiatrist. If you have a picture showing progression of joint or bone damage, it may be helpful to contact your previous healthcare provider and search for these records.

The orthopedist will need to examine the area around the joint, muscle, or tendon, so it is important that you wear clothing that can be easily removed. Baggy pants will allow you to quickly examine the knee or hip joint, etc.

If this is your first visit to a podiatrist, be sure to arrive early to complete the required documentation with the registrar. These documents are necessary not only for insurance purposes, but completing your medical and surgical history thoroughly will help the doctor know what to call first.

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