What is an orthopedic surgeon?

March 1, 2017

Is a worn-out hip or knee keeping you from moving freely? Are you wincing because of chronic back pain that just keeps getting worse? Did you slip and shatter a bone?iStock-501707098.jpg

These are all health problems that might send you to an orthopedic surgeon. These highly trained medical specialists focus on diagnosing and treating injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.

Help for kids and adults

Once these specialists only cared for children with spine and limb deformities. But today they tend to people of all ages, from newborns with club feet to young athletes with overuse injuries to older adults with painful arthritis.

And you might think that orthopedic surgeons do only one thing: surgery. But surgery is something they generally advise only if medicine, exercise, and other therapies don't improve a patient's health.

When surgery is necessary, they might perform:

  • Arthroscopy. This procedure uses special cameras and equipment to visualize, diagnose and treat problems inside a joint.
  • Fusion. Here bones are joined together with bone grafts and devices (such as metal rods) to heal into a single solid bone.
  • Joint replacement. A damaged joint is replaced with an artificial one.

Special expertise

Although orthopedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many specialize in treating certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, spine, hip, or knee. And they may choose to focus on specific fields, like pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine.

Do you want to learn more about the health problems these doctors treat and meet our orthopedic team? Visit us at www.Bassett.org


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