Welcome to the Orthopedic Surgeon Guide! If you are visiting this site because you need information on musculoskeletal injury treatments, you are in the right place! This site is regularly updated and new content is posted every week. Our goal is to develop a resource that is valuable to those who are wondering whether or not to contact an orthopedist, or simply wish to learn about the pros and cons of orthopedic surgery, otherwise known as benefits and risks.
What is an orthopedic surgeon?
An orthopedic surgeon is a medical professional who performs orthopedic surgeries on patients. An orthopedic surgery is an invasive procedure designed to correct certain abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system. The surgery involves performing one or more incisions that allow the surgeon to reach the body area that needs correction or treatment. Most surgeries are performed under general anesthesia in order to prevent the patient from feeling pain.
Orthopedic surgery may be performed if a patient needs a total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty; a hip replacement or total hip arthroplasty; a fracture repair such as open reduction internal fixation; a spinal injury such as degenerative disk disease, spinal fracture, or a intervertebral disc herniation. Unfortunately, sometimes an amputation is necessary if there is no sufficient blood flow to a limb or part of a limb, or there is an infectious process in the bone or other limb tissue that conservative treatment has not been able to stop.
For those readers who are interested in becoming orthopedists or want to know what type of education these surgeons go through, here is a short article on how to become an orthopedic surgeon.
What does an orthopedic surgeon do?
Many surgeons specializes in a particular area or body system. An orthopedic surgeon’s specialty is orthopedics, meaning anything that relates to the musculoskeletal system including:
Soft Tissue Injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Dislocation and subluxation
- Repetitive strain injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injury
- Meniscus injury
- Muscle spasms
Orthopedic surgeons also treat various toes of fractures caused by sports injuries, car accidents, falls, construction site accidents, or any other type of trauma to the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedist can help patients with advanced arthritis who cannot bear the pain from bone touching bone any longer. The pain is due to cartilage wear-off and lack of synovial fluid in the case of knee arthritis, or dysfunctional intervertebral discs resulting in spinal vertebrae compressing one or more nerves stemming from the spinal cord in the case of spinal arthritis. Orthopedists also treat infants, children or young adults with various congenital abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system.
Do I need orthopedic surgery?
Some musculoskeletal disorders result from aging of the joints, others are caused by injuries, and yet others come as a compound effect of both. Certain environmental factors such as cold and humidity can also contribute to musculoskeletal discomfort, even at an early age. Arthritis is a great example. It may occur due to humidity, age, and wear of tear of the cartilages on joints that have been consistently subject to stress without adequate time for recovery.
In the case of advanced knee arthritis, the cartilages that coat the lower or inferior end of the femur (thigh bone) and the upper or superior end of the tibia (the larger of the two leg bones) are compromised to the point of non-existence. In addition, the fluid that lubricates the inside of the large capsules of the knee joints, known as synovial fluid, tends to decrease with age, leaving no adequate lubrication for the bone endings. The two large bones that connect at the knee have no buffer between each other, they touch and cause severe pain with walking and other movements. or even at rest. When arthritis is at a such an advanced stage, total knee replacement surgery may be indicated if the patient’s overall health condition is good enough for the patient to undergo the surgery without complications.
The above example is just one case when you may want to consult with an orthopedic surgeon after you have tried other methods to relieve your discomfort. Basically, any musculoskeletal disorder that prevents you from functioning normally in your daily life due to improper alignment, compromised mobility, severe pain or all of the above, requires the attention of an orthopedic specialist. Sometimes you may want to consider alternative methods such as massage, chiropractic, Bowen therapy or acupuncture. There are cases in which any of these alternative professionals will let you know when they are unable to help you (some cases of advanced disc disease or severe fractures) and will recommend that you call an orthopedist.
How to find the top orthopedic surgeons in your area
The Internet is a great place to start your quest for a surgeon that has helped many others in need. Of course, if you know someone you trust that has had an orthopedic surgery recently and can recommend a surgeon, word of mouth as an excellent way to get a hold of a reliable orthopedic specialist. If not, just take the time to read patients’ reviews on several orthopedic surgeons in your area. Then go to the websites of these orthopedists and read about their credentials and years of experience. A surgeon may specialize in spinal, knee/hip or hand surgeries. You may want to choose a professional with extensive knowledge and experience in the ailment for which you need the doctor in the first place.
It is always a good idea to get at least two expert opinions before making any cardinal decisions. Make a list of questions and write down the answers during the appointment. Always request a full list of the benefits and risks involved in the surgical treatment suggested by your doctor. Every patient is a unique case and different people perceive benefits and risks differently.
If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular orthopedic specialist, seek another surgeon’s advice until you find the person whom your will be able to trust to operate on you. At the same time, take the experts’ advice to heart and make an educated decision as to what would possibly be the best solution to your situation. Once you choose an orthopedic doctor for your surgery, follow the instructions in order to prevent any possible complications. The surgeon will need your help in the form of discipline and commitment just as much as you’ll need his or her dedication to your healing and recovery process.