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What is Orthopedics?

Doctors and Medical Specialties

Orthopedics (or orthopaedics) is the field of medicine that deals with problems and treatment of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves of the body. Orthopedics was traditionally the study and treatment of disabled children, but has grown to encompass a variety of musculoskeletal problems in children and adults alike. A doctor in orthopedics is required to finish medical school and complete a five-year residency (plus an optional year for a specialty).

Orthopedic doctors are trained as surgeons to diagnose, treat, and manage arthritis, back, leg, and foot pain, sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, and other conditions where the skeletal system is involved. They treat various conditions with medication, exercise, rehabilitation, and surgery. Orthopedists perform surgeries such as joint replacement, nerve repair, and disc repair. Pediatric orthopedic doctors deal with developmental problems in children like scoliosis and limb length discrepancy. They also treat broken bones, sprains, and dislocated joints. Orthopedic surgeons work in a variety of specialties to treat certain areas of the body (foot, ankle, knee, and hip) or different types of injuries (sports medicine or trauma).

There are different types of surgical procedures in orthopedics:

  • Arthroscopy is a procedure where cameras and equipment are navigated inside a joint to diagnose and treat injuries or conditions.
  • Joint replacement is performed by replacing an arthritic or damaged joint with prosthesis.
  • Soft tissue repair is the mending of torn ligaments or tendons.
  • Osteotomy corrects bone deformities by cutting and resetting bones.
  • Fusion uses bone grafts and rods to weld bones together.
  • Internal fixation helps broken bones heal properly by positioning them with pins, screws, and plates.

Advances in orthopedic treatment options and diagnostics have made treating broken bones, damaged joints, injuries, and deformities more successful than ever. Commonplace surgeries like hip and joint replacements have given generations exceptional mobility. New, cutting edge orthopedic technology is replacing lost limbs with prostheses that allow wearers to live relatively normal lives. Orthopedic treatments like these are improving the quality of life to people who would have otherwise had restrictive lifestyles due to physical ailments.

Patients should consult with a qualified orthopedic doctor and/or primary physician to weigh the costs and benefits of orthopedic surgery. Find out about all the possible treatment options before making a decision and be sure to get information on orthopedic surgical procedures, risks, recovery period, and what types of results to expect from the surgery.

Related topics: Pain Management, Radiology

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