What is Orthopedics?
Orthopedics is the medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system. An Orthopedic Surgeon treats patients who suffer from disorders of the bones, joints, muscles and associated structures like ligaments, tendons, nerves, bones and skin. They diagnose and treat a wide range of bone and skeletal problems, from performing minor surgery like treating minor injuries e.g. a broken toe and the repair of a lacerated tendon to major surgery e.g. performing a knee replacement procedure and lumbar spine surgical procedures. Thanks to doctors specialized in this area of medicine, patients suffering from injuries and diseases of the musculo-skeletal system can be rehabilitated so they can move, work and lead an active life.
What does Orthopedic Surgeons do?
Orthopedic Surgeons endeavors to improve mobility and mobility by:
- Examining, evaluating and diagnosing injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system;
- Restoring patient’s strength and movement; – sweeping statement – not sure if it is justified
- Developing and recommending treatment plans (including medication, exercise, and/or surgery);
- Tailoring physical therapy to each patient’s condition;
- Informing people about the prevention of bone and joint injuries;
- Contributing to patient’s rehabilitation;
- Halting or slowing disease progression and taking steps to prevent/minimize complications;
- Discussing treatment options with patients and helping them choose the best treatment plan to regain health, mobility, function and maximize independence.
Orthopedic Areas of Expertise
Orthopods can choose general orthopedics or may specialize in one or several areas, such as:
- Spine Care: treatment of back and neck pain, as well as all types of spine disorders;
- Hand and Upper Extremity: focuses on treating conditions affecting the hands, arms, elbows, wrists and shoulders due to injuries, trauma, arthritis or congenital malformations;
- Toe, Foot and Ankle: injuries or conditions including cartilage injuries, fractures, tendon ruptures, arthritis, osteoarthritis;
- Joint Care and Replacement: addresses patients suffering from degenerative joint diseases. These Orthopods deal with hip or knee replacement and arthroscopy among others;
- Trauma or Sports Medicine concerns the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries;
- Pediatric Orthopedics provides diagnosis, nonsurgical and surgical care for newborns, children up to teenagers;
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation restores the health and lost body functions following sports injuries, amputation, joint replacement or spinal disorders;
- Orthopedic Oncology treats benign and malignant bone or soft-tissue tumors.
The Career Path of an Orthopedic Surgeon
Orthopedic surgeons have to keep up with the development of noninvasive diagnostic methods as well as with the advances in the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. Mastery in this field is accomplished through extensive training, research and continuous improvement of orthopedic skills and knowledge. In general, Orthopods complete up to 14 years of formal medical education. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), this includes:
- 4 years of college or university;
- 4 years of medical school;
- 5 years of orthopedic residency at an approved academic training hospital;
- 1- 3 year of specialized education (optional).
Certified Orthopedic Surgeons are also required to pass oral and written exams as well as practical and clinical evaluation – organized by the Board of Orthopedic Surgery.
Orthopods have the opportunity to work alongside other health care professionals by joining multidisciplinary teams and treat complex for instance multi-system trauma (poly-trauma) cases. They can serve as team physicians and orthopedic consultants or provide highly specialized orthopedic care for professional or high school sports teams and Olympic athletes. Orthopedic doctors also play a crucial role in managing and delivering emergency care.