Treatment and therapy of bones and joints.

Most people will visit an orthopedic surgeon at some point in their lives, and some people will see him frequently. However, there is often confusion as to which diseases are being treated by orthopedic specialists. Orthopedic medicine treats the musculoskeletal system . Health care providers in this area of medicine specialize in diagnosing, treating, and treating conditions that affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and nerves in patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly.

Inti St. Clair / Getty Images

Field of Orthopedic Medicine

The musculoskeletal system includes the body's skeleton and the mechanisms that make it work. Although orthopedics specializes in this particular system, in reality, almost all medical specialties coincide with this specialty.

While some orthopedic surgeons receive additional training to perform specialized surgeries, orthopedic surgeons generally spend most of their time treating patients outside of the operating room. Most orthopedic specialists have a very busy office practice. Orthopedic surgeons can also be found in the emergency department, caring for patients in hospital wards or even on the sidelines of sporting events.

It takes about 10 years of post-college education and training to become an orthopedic surgeon , but it is a highly sought-after specialty. And even after more than a decade of training, many surgeons continue to specialize in orthopedics.

The Greek word ortho means straight, and pedics comes from pais, which means child. For centuries, orthopedic specialists have treated children with disabilities and conditions such as scoliosis.

Related conditions

Orthopedic conditions are the most common reason people seek medical help , although not all patients with an orthopedic condition meet with an orthopedic specialist.

About a third of people in the US have some type of musculoskeletal system, and this number is increasing. The good news is that most of these conditions are treatable. In fact, orthopedics is one of the most successful medical and surgical procedures.

Some of the many problems that fall within the scope of orthopedics include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Broken meniscus
  • Bursitis
  • Hip fracture
  • Back and neck pain

Your orthopedic diagnosis

Not everyone with shoulder pain has a rotator cuff tear , and not everyone with back pain has a muscle strain. While these problems can be one of the most common causes of discomfort, if you have a different medical condition, your treatment may change.

The first step is to find an orthopedic specialist who can help diagnose the cause of your specific problem and guide your treatment in the right direction.

Once you have been diagnosed with an orthopedic disorder, it is important to find a doctor who will take the time to explain your options and listen to your questions.

Take control of your treatment

The best way to manage your treatment is to know the condition that is causing your symptoms. Many musculoskeletal conditions can be improved with physical fitness and rehabilitation, but you must learn what to do during therapy.

Gaining this knowledge can be of great help to your recovery.

Related conditions

Many common health problems make treating orthopedic conditions very difficult. Weight gain puts enormous pressure on the joints , and injured or worn joints almost always feel worse in heavier people. Smoking slows bone healing and can make recovery from treatment less successful and take longer .

Staying healthy can really make orthopedic problems that much easier.

Living with an orthopedic problem

Although many orthopedic diseases can be cured and cured, some people have a lifetime diagnosis. One of the most challenging aspects of treating an orthopedic condition is staying fit and healthy while you have musculoskeletal problems. Exercise can be difficult and painful for people with bone and joint problems.

The good news is that there are many ways to switch activities and new activities that you can try that may not put as much stress on the injured joint, keeping you active and in good shape. Remember that for orthopedic conditions, it is almost always best to maintain a healthy body weight and strong muscles. There are exercises that can be done even for painful joints.

Questions to ask your doctor

I always encourage you to ask your orthopedic surgeon questions . In fact, if he or she doesn't have time for your questions, it could be a sign that you need to find another healthcare provider.

The best way to get all your questions answered is to write them down and bring them to your appointment. Be sure to also write down the answers your doctor gives you for future reference.

Another helpful way to make sure all of your questions are answered is by contacting a health advocate . It could be a family member or close friend, or it could be a professional social worker, but it should be someone who can accompany you to your appointment and help you speak on your behalf. Often times, concerns about treatment or surgery can cloud your thinking. Having someone accompany you to your appointment will help you avoid unnecessary questions.

Get the word of drug information

The diagnosis of an orthopedic disease can be overwhelming. However, there are effective treatments for most orthopedic conditions, and many people find that their symptoms disappear completely if the proper measures are taken. Many orthopedic diseases, even if they appear suddenly, are the result of long-standing problems in the way we use our bodies. Successful treatment may take some time and effort, but the investment is worth it.

Related Articles