A branch of medicine concerned with the correction or prevention of deformities, disorders, or injuries of the skeleton and associated structures (as tendons and ligaments)
Orthopaedic surgeons treat problems of the musculoskeletal system. This involves:
- Diagnosis of your injury or disorder
- Treatment with medication, exercise, casting, surgery or other options
- Rehabilitation by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength and function
- Prevention with information and treatment plans to prevent injury or slow the progression of disease
While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, spine, shoulder, hand, hip or knee. They may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine. Some orthopaedic surgeons may specialize in several areas.
Orthopaedic surgeons treat many musculoskeletal conditions without surgery—by using medication, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies.
For most orthopaedic diseases and injuries there is more than one form of treatment. If necessary, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery if you do not respond to nonsurgical treatments.
Orthopaedic surgeons perform numerous types of surgeries. Common procedures include:
- Arthroscopy—a procedure that uses special cameras and equipment to visualize, diagnose and treat problems inside a joint.
- Fusion—a “welding” process by which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods) to heal into a single solid bone.
- Internal fixation—a method to hold the broken pieces of bone in proper position with metal plates, pins or screws while the bone is healing.
- Joint replacement (partial, total and revision)—when an arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis.
- Osteotomy—the correction of bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.
- Soft tissue repair—the mending of soft tissue, such as torn tendons or ligaments.