An orthopedist, also known as an orthopedic (also spelled orthopaedic) surgeon, is a medical doctor with a certification in orthopedics. An orthopedic physician uses different methods to examine, protect, and return functions to a patient’s musculoskeletal related injuries. The musculoskeletal system includes your bones and the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and joints associated with them. Because of this, it is estimated that about 70% of all physician visits are related to it. The range of problems is also vast, following is but a sample of some problems that can occur with the musculoskeletal structure: tumors, infections, sports injuries, accident related trauma, congenital disorders, and degenerative diseases. Some injuries may also require other systems to be addressed at the same time by the orthopedic surgeon, one good example of this can be spinal injuries which force the surgeon to take the nervous system into account as well.
Luckily, science has come a long way over the years. In days past, before anesthesia was around, orthopedic physicians were forced to treat bone deformities with crude braces. The braces attempted to properly align the bones to correct the deformities that were causing anguish. Anesthesia being available has opened the doors for orthopedic surgery to treat bone trauma. The extent of the trauma caused by the injury will determine if there is a need for surgery on the bone, connective tissues, nerves, and muscles. Though this may sound simple the expanded range of responsibilities on an orthopaedic surgeon is immense. Surgeries may include joint replacements, amputation, traction, and even spinal adjustments and fusions. Screws, ceramic prosthetics, pins, metal plates, and wires, sounds like you are building a haunted house but interestingly enough, orthopedic surgery often requires the addition of foreign material to the body and all the above things are often used. All these additions allow deteriorated joints, severely misaligned bones, defective connective tissues and the like to repair and function again. There are equally as many non-surgical procedures they oversee, some of which are dislocations, strains, broken bones, sprains, and slight misalignment.
It is no wonder with all of the above that people are concerned about having these surgeries. Every surgery carries risks like infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, scarring, excessive inflammation or recovery time, and of course pain. but methods have been developed to make these surgeries as minimally invasive as is possible and with medical advances these procedures are becoming safer and more common place every day. Most of the people who have had knee or hip replacement surgery (one of the more common surgeries) not only recover from the surgery but experience a huge restoration of function that had previously been lost to them. Though the success level in individual recoveries vary depending on the overall health, injury being treated, patient’s compliance, and age. We are lucky to have come to a point where we can replace a knee once the joint has been worn with age and use.
It is always important to be careful in selecting a physician, because of the possible consequences it is not only important but crucial to ensure you have a good surgeon that is compatible with you, experienced, and understands fully your expectations. Likewise your orthopedist should walk you through every step of the process including your options, potential need for recovery time, physical therapy needs, and an honest expectation of how well you will recover and be able to function after the surgery. A few things you can do to make sure your orthopaedic physician is a good match for you is to research your condition thoroughly online, ask lots of questions, and make sure they are listening to you and willing to give you more than one option for your situation. If in doubt at all, get a second opinion, your health is not worth taking chances with.