Orthopedics is a highly specialized branch of medicine that covers the musculoskeletal system of the human body. The musculoskeletal system covers bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. Orthopedic surgeons are focus on diagnosing, treating and repairing injuries to these parts of the human body.
Being a highly specialized area, a typical orthopedic surgeon will spend up to 14 years of formal education to get the necessary qualifications. In addition he or she will be expected to spend a great deal of time in updating skills and knowledge in addition to the 14 years of formal education to keep up to date with new trends and ideas.
It is quite common for a orthopedists to specialize in a particular type of injury or part of the body such as the hands, feet, knees or hips.
In the past orthopedists were mainly involved in treating crippled children. However, this has now changed and covers the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders in people from all age groups.
These days we often hear about joint replacement surgery. This is very common treatment performed by orthopedic surgeons but there is a wide range of other conditions and injuries that come under their expertise. These include such things as sports injuries like cruciate ligament repair, pulled muscles, broken bones, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and some spinal injuries. Some specialize in problems associated with growth and development of children. Things like scoliosis and limb length problems as well as fractures and sprains and the like that children may suffer while still in their growing and developmental stages.
Some of the work of an orthopedic surgeon may also extend to physical therapy, the prescribing of medications to treat diseases like osteoarthritis and injuries like sprains and strains. In addition they often work with and advise physical therapists on treatments of certain conditions.
Broadly speaking the role of an orthopedic surgeon could be summarized as covering four main areas. These are:
• diagnosis of the injury or condition
• putting together a treatment plan that might include medication, exercise or as a last resort, surgery.
• Rehabilitation which could include physical therapy or exercises with the aim of restoring strength and function.
• Prevention are supplying information and recommendations to prevent injury or slow the advancement of disease.
I can personally attest to the value of orthopedic surgeons after having recently been referred to one following breaking my ankle. With his expertise in treating the fracture and in putting together a rehabilitation plan to strengthen and get the joints moving properly, my ankle healed beautifully and I have had no subsequent problems. I can only imagine how someone must feel if they’ve had a major joint replaced that may have dramatically changed their life and all because of the expertise of their orthopedic surgeon.