What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

October 28th, 2020 Becki Andrus
What is an Orthopedic Surgeon? Orthopedic Associates Blog

Do you know the services offered by orthopedic surgeons? The orthopedic specialty focuses on the musculoskeletal system including the bones, ligaments, joints, muscles, and tendons. These parts of the body are essential to everyday life activities since a person’s movement is affected by the function of their limbs and skeleton system.

Orthopedic Subspecialties

Orthopedic surgeons help patients who are experiencing joint or bone pain or need help with injury recovery. Since there are over 200 bones in the body, it requires a lot of training and practice to gain the specialty skills needed for a variety of circumstances.

So, it’s common for orthopedic surgeons to subspecialize by narrowing their focus on specific treatment areas. For example, joint doctors might only treat patients with knee or hip problems, while hand and wrist specialists only work with patients who need treatments for upper extremities.

Common orthopedic subspecialties for specific areas of the body include:

  • Foot and ankle
  • Hip and Knee
  • Hand and wrist
  • Elbow and shoulder
  • Spine

Is a hand surgeon an orthopedic surgeon? Yes! Any time you talk to a doctor who specializes in surgical and non-surgical treatments for the musculoskeletal system, then they have completed orthopedic surgeon training.

Other times, doctors choose subspecialties based on specific fields (instead of focusing on certain areas of the body).

The subspecialties of orthopedics based on specific fields include:

  • Sports medicine
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Oncology
  • Trauma
  • Pediatrics

When Should I See an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic services can be beneficial for people of all ages. If you have a muscular or bone injury, or you are dealing with chronic pain, then it might be time to see a doctor.

Not only do orthopedic surgeons help with the treatment of injuries and pain, but they can also offer recommendations for preventive treatments as well. It’s never too early to talk to a doctor if you suspect that you have early signs of an injury. Orthopedic surgeons can help with acute injuries, as well as degenerative or chronic disorders.

An orthopedic doctor can assist with diagnostics and a full evaluation of your unique condition. Then, personalized treatment options can be discussed to identify the best course of action.

What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Treat?

What does an orthopedic surgeon do when you schedule an appointment? First, the goal is to identify the underlying cause of your pain or discomfort. During the visit, the doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and also complete a thorough examination to look at your range of motion and location of the pain.

Orthopedic surgeons can treat patients for a full range of injuries and issues, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Joint pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Back pain
  • Spinal stenosis or ruptured discs
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hand and finger injuries
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Bunions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendon problems
  • Bone tumors
  • Bow legs
  • Club foot
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Limb lengthening
  • Orthopedic injury or trauma

Anything relating to disorders, injuries, degenerative diseases, tumors, infections, and congenital disorders can be addressed by an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor will assess the problem, then identify the best treatment solutions that will restore function and performance.

In addition to injury support, these treatments can also be proactive to improve performance. For example, instead of waiting for a sports injury to occur, an athlete can work with an orthopedic specialist to identify treatments that will optimize physical function on the playing field.

Do Orthopedic Surgeons Always Recommend Surgery?

An orthopedic surgeon provides a personalized treatment plan, which may include surgery or other non-invasive treatments. Some patients shy away from visiting an orthopedic surgeon because they assume that the doctor will rush to schedule a surgical procedure. While there are times when surgery is the best option, a good orthopedic surgeon often explores other treatments before determining whether surgery is required.

There are times when surgery is the only solution. For example, if a patient is in a traumatic accident that threatens the function of a limb, then it might be necessary to schedule surgery as soon as possible. Realigning the bone and placing specialty medical equipment can be a necessary step to promote proper healing.

Here is an overview of treatments that may be offered in an orthopedic surgical procedure:

  • Arthroscopy: A small camera is used to see the inside of the joint, without a need to use large incisions.
  • Fusion: Sometimes bones need to be fused together using internal devices, such as rods.
  • Joint Replacement: If a joint is damaged, then it can be removed with an artificial joint as a replacement to restore function. This replacement can be either partial or total, or a procedure might be needed for revision to correct an old surgery.
  • Soft Tissue Repair: Surgery can be done to repair ligaments and tendons when needed.
  • Internal Fixation: Broken pieces of bone can be held together with pins, screws, or plates.
  • Osteotomy: Surgery might be required to correct bone deformities, using a method to cut and re-position the bone.
  • Pain Management and Injections: Orthopedic surgeons can also help with a full range of pain management treatments such as injections, medication, physical therapy, and more.

Keep in mind that the title “orthopedic surgeon” is often used by habit when referring to orthopedic doctors. Even though surgery is a common medical procedure, this doctor also has experience with other treatments. All orthopedic surgeons are orthopedic specialists, but not all orthopedic specialists are surgeons.

Who to Call: Best Orthopedic Surgeons in Denton and Flower Mound

If you need to visit with an orthopedic surgeon, then you have the option to book an appointment at a private office or visit a multi-specialty group.

Some surgeons are self-employed, with small clinics. Other doctors group together, combining their subspecialties in a shared office to give patients access to a full range of experts in one location. This multi-specialty approach is a preferred solution because patients like the convenience of accessing all of the necessary services in one place.

Other opportunities for an orthopedic career are in research or education. For example, an orthopedic surgeon might practice in a private clinic for years, before transitioning to an educational position where they train other up-and-coming surgeons.

Is it time for you to talk to an orthopedic surgeon? Then our team is just a phone call away. We offer quality services and a team of experienced orthopedic specialists and surgeons to support your unique needs. At Orthopedic Associates, you can expect a full-service approach, with available treatments for everything from sports injuries to chronic pain and more. Take a moment to request an appointment online or give us a call .

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