Orthopedic Surgeons: Ten Things You Need to Know

June 25th, 2024 Becki Andrus
Orthopedic Surgeons- Ten Things You Need to Know

When you are looking for an orthopedic surgeon, it’s common to have a lot of questions about the doctor’s expertise and the services they offer. Many patients are unsure about whether they actually need orthopedic care. And if they require these services, then they don’t know where to look to find the right surgeon.

Learning more about the orthopedic industry can be helpful as you are choosing the right care for yourself or a loved one. Most people will need orthopedic treatment at some point in life since this specialty addresses joint and bone pain.

Here are a few important things that every patient should know when preparing to meet with an orthopedic surgeon.

1. Many Orthopedic Surgeons Have a Specialty

Even though an orthopedic surgeon has received education and training in all aspects of the orthopedic industry, it’s common for a doctor to choose a specialty. For example, you will receive better care by visiting a hand and wrist specialist if you experience an injury affecting this part of the body.

By specializing in one area of orthopedics, doctors are better equipped to diagnose, treat, and even prevent common problems affecting these joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues.

2. Orthopedic Specialists vs. Orthopedic Surgeons

Even though these two terms might sound like synonyms, there are distinct differences in the services available through an orthopedic surgeon vs. an orthopedic specialist. Often, “orthopedic surgeon” is used by default when referring to any type of orthopedic doctor. But not all orthopedic doctors have surgical training.

Any doctor in the industry falls in the category of “orthopedic specialist.” This means that they are qualified to examine, diagnose, and treat a variety of orthopedic issues.

On the other hand, an “orthopedic surgeon” is an orthopedic specialist with surgical training. But just because they are qualified to offer surgical interventions doesn’t mean surgery will be recommended.

3. Orthopedic Doctors Treat the Musculoskeletal System

When you visit an orthopedic specialist, it means they have the education, training, and experience to treat various conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system: joints, bones, nerve issues, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

The goal is to help patients maintain the highest levels of function and movement in everyday life.

4. Surgery Isn’t the Only Treatment

It’s important to understand that meeting with an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t necessarily mean that you will go “under the knife.” The truth is that many orthopedic surgeons prefer minimally-invasive treatments whenever possible, helping patients avoid more intensive interventions (such as surgery).

5. Referral Isn’t Always Necessary

Most patients assume that they need to see their primary care physician first, then they can be referred to visit with an orthopedic surgeon. While this treatment path is common, you might be able to skip the primary care provider and go straight to the specialist.

If you know that you have a traumatic injury affecting your orthopedic function, then you’ll end up visiting an orthopedic specialist. So it often makes sense to go straight to the source instead of adding one more appointment with a primary care physician.

6. When to See an Orthopedic Specialist vs. Primary Care Physician

Primary care providers are an excellent resource when a patient is experiencing a mix of orthopedic and non-orthopedic symptoms.

On the other hand, there are a few clear indications that you will benefit from services from an orthopedic specialist instead of a primary care physician. Visit an orthopedic doctor if you have chronic pain, range of motion limitations, difficulty standing or walking, or an inability to complete everyday functions at home or work.

7. Professional, Comprehensive Resources

One of the benefits of visiting a specialist is that the doctor has access to a range of equipment, resources, and treatments. Not only do orthopedic surgeons have access to diagnostic options that aren’t available through a primary care provider, but they also have in-depth experience relating to these types of injuries.

For example, an orthopedic surgeon might complete thousands of related treatments each year, meaning they have hands-on experience to know the best services for your unique needs.

8. Check the Doctor’s Training and Education

When you are choosing an orthopedic surgeon, it’s wise to look at information about the person’s training, education, and more. Not only will a trusted orthopedic specialist have the necessary degrees, but they also complete fellowships and residencies to learn more about their focus areas.

Additionally, a good doctor will complete the requirements to achieve board certification.

You can usually find details about a doctor’s training and education by looking at their website. If this information isn’t available online, ask the doctor for more information.

9. Common Reasons to Visit an Orthopedic Doctor

How can you tell if you need to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor? If you have any type of pain affecting the joints, bones, muscles, and more, an orthopedic doctor is a great resource.

Orthopedic doctors can treat a range of issues.

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Ankle or foot pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Wrist or hand pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain

An orthopedic doctor can help with all types of pain, including acute injuries, chronic conditions, sharp pain, dull pain, and more.

10. Priorities with Orthopedic Treatments

An orthopedic doctor has several goals when designing a treatment plan for each patient. The first priority is to determine a diagnosis because the doctor can be confident that they are implementing the ideal treatment plan.

Orthopedic doctors can help with recovery and healing after an injury. Even if a cure isn’t available for a specific condition, different treatments can improve a patient’s life and minimize their symptoms.

  • Range of Motion: Orthopedic doctors address related issues like injury, swelling, pain, and stiffness to optimize a patient’s range of motion.
  • Daily Function: Treatment plans are designed to improve daily function as much as possible so a person can perform regular activities at home and work.
  • Basic Tasks: Sometimes, patients need help with basic tasks, such as reaching up to take something out of a cabinet or getting out of bed. An orthopedic doctor creates solutions to match your lifestyle and individual needs.
  • Injury Prevention: In addition to post-injury treatment, orthopedic surgeons offer solutions to help athletes avoid injuries in the future.
  • Performance Optimization: Some orthopedic doctors specialize in sports medicine. This focus helps professional athletes and “weekend warriors” improve their overall performance.

Call an Orthopedic Surgeon for a Consultation

Do you need to visit with an orthopedic doctor? Then reach out to our team at Orthopedic Associates to schedule an examination. Our full-service approach is available for people of all ages, and we treat everything from sports injuries to chronic pain and more. Contact our team to book an appointment. Call (972) 420-1776.


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