What Can an Orthopedic Doctor Diagnose?

September 15th, 2022 Becki Andrus
What Can an Orthopedic Doctor Diagnose?

Orthopedic doctors specialize in injuries and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, including the tendons, bones, ligaments, joints, and nerves. While general practitioners can help with minor injuries, seeing an orthopedic specialist for serious or chronic conditions is best.

Orthopedics for Acute Injuries and Chronic Conditions

Special medical attention is necessary to support proper healing and optimal function going forward when any type of musculoskeletal injury occurs. These specialized services are available from an orthopedic doctor who can assist with diagnostics and a personalized treatment plan.

Musculoskeletal Injuries can occur for a variety of reasons: sports accidents, slip and falls, workplace injuries, and more. When an acute injury occurs, it’s best to talk to an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment, the better the likelihood of minimizing potential complications.

Even if you aren’t physically active or in any accidents, there is still a risk of muscle tissue damage from the wear and tear that happens on a daily basis. Examples of regular activities that can cause musculoskeletal pain include repetitive movements in the workplace, prolonged computer use, poor posture, and more.

The Type of Conditions Treated by Orthopedic Doctors

Diagnostics and treatment plans are available for a full range of musculoskeletal conditions, such as:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone Fractures
  • Muscle Strains
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Bone Tumors
  • Joint Pain
  • Sprains
  • Tendon Tears
  • Limb Abnormalities
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Runner’s Knee
  • Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • And More

Any time a condition or injury affects the tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, muscles, or bones, then it’s best to go straight to an orthopedic specialist instead of a general practitioner. In fact, an appointment with a primary care physician for these types of conditions often results in a referral to an orthopedic doctor.

How an Orthopedic Doctor Can Help

What should you expect when you visit an orthopedic doctor for an acute or chronic condition? There are several priorities during the appointment and subsequent treatment plan:


Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical to ensure that you follow the ideal treatment plan going forward. Before an orthopedic doctor recommends treatments, it’s necessary first to complete testing and imaging to determine the underlying cause of your pain.

The more the doctor knows about your condition, the more effective your treatment plan will be. So, it’s essential for the doctor to complete the right testing and diagnostics to ensure that they have a clear understanding about the specific conditions being treated.

Pain Management

The next priority is to relieve your pain. Often, pain management starts during the diagnosis process to help you find relief as soon as possible.

Initial pain management might include the use of medication to mask the symptoms. But an experienced orthopedic doctor will continue with other treatment options that address the underlying cause.

Pain management can help reduce the symptoms enough, so a patient can proceed with other treatments, such as physical therapy, in-office interventions, and more.

Range of Motion

The next thing that will be addressed in a personalized treatment plan is to protect and improve your range of motion.

Swelling, stiffness, and joint pain can take a toll on your range of motion, which has a domino effect on almost every other area of your life. For example, a limited range of motion can make it hard to bend over, clean the house, shower, or go grocery shopping.

Orthopedic doctors use treatments such as physical therapy, at-home stretching, and other modalities to help with your range of motion. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to help with your range of motion.

Injury Treatment

Another critical component offered by an orthopedic doctor is a treatment plan to speed up and improve overall recovery after an injury. One benefit is that orthopedic doctors have a variety of treatment solutions in one location, giving you access to full-service options to address your unique injuries.

Available treatments might include steroid injections, medications, physical therapy, surgery, and more.

Even when you visit an orthopedic surgeon, it doesn’t necessarily mean that surgery will be recommended. Instead, our team of orthopedic specialists is proactive about using minimally-invasive treatments first. Then, if these initial treatments don’t work, more invasive methods might be considered.

Injury Prevention

You don’t need to wait until an injury occurs before talking to an orthopedic doctor. One option is to meet with a specialist proactively so you can learn about lifestyle habits, exercises, and treatment plans that prevent injury.

For example, athletes often work with orthopedic doctors who specialize in sports medicine. As a result, exercise and training routines can be designed to help with strengthening, stretching, flexibility, and range of motion.

Including these proactive exercises in an athlete’s training routine improves the overall body function, which has a positive benefit of reducing the risk of injury in the future.

Injury prevention is an excellent solution for both professional athletes and weekend warriors alike. Regardless of your fitness level or abilities, there are always benefits available from working with an orthopedic doctor to prevent injury while participating in an active lifestyle.

Management of Chronic Conditions

When a patient is living with a chronic condition, working with an orthopedic doctor on an ongoing basis can be helpful.

Chronic condition management aims to prevent injury, manage symptoms, and prevent the condition from worsening.

Signs You Need to See an Orthopedic Specialist

How do you know when it’s time to visit an orthopedic specialist? Here are a few signs that you will benefit from these medical services:

  • Persistent pain lasting more than 3 months
  • Severe pain from an acute injury
  • Decrease in range of motion
  • Discomfort or pain when walking
  • Any chronic condition, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • Progressive pain in the hips or knees
  • Pain that is taking a toll on your daily activities

Choosing an Orthopedic Expert

Did you know that most orthopedic doctors choose a specialty? Even though they are trained on all parts of the musculoskeletal system, it’s common for doctors to hone in on a specific part of the body.

You can access specialty doctors at Orthopedic Associates who specialize in:

  • Trauma Surgery
  • Hand
  • Sports Medicine
  • Ankle and Foot
  • Shoulder and Elbow
  • Knee and Hip
  • Spine

For more information about these services, contact our Orthopedic Associates team. You can book an appointment using our online form. Or, call at your convenience:  (972) 420-1776.


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