what is orthopaedic surgery?
Orthopaedic Surgery is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of your body's musculoskeletal system. This complex system includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves and allows you to move, work, and be active.
Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, Orthopaedic Surgery (also spelled Orthopedics) now includes care for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet, to young athletes who need arthroscopic surgery, to older people with arthritis. And anybody can break a bone.
What is an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
Orthopaedic surgeons manage special problems of the musculoskeletal system. This involves:
-Diagnosis of your injury or disorder
-Treatment with medication, exercise, surgery or other treatment plans
-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 diseases
While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the shoulder or knee or the hand or the spine. They may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine. Some orthopaedic surgeons may specialize in several areas.
Dr. David Bell, at the Bell Sports Medicine Institute, specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery, with a special focus on shoulder and knee procedures. He also has a special focus on total shoulder replacement.
What is the education and training involved in Orthopaedic Surgery?
Your orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor with extensive training in the proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.Orthopaedic surgeons complete up to 14 years of formal education.
Four years of study in a college or university
Four years of study in medical school
Five years of study in orthopaedic residency at a major medical center
One optional year of specialized education called a fellowship
After establishing a licensed practice, an orthopaedic surgeon demonstrates mastery of orthopaedic knowledge by passing both oral and written examinations given by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Some even chose to sit for examinations to be granted a specialty certificate, as Dr. Bell did in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.
Each year orthopaedic surgeons spends many hours studying and attending continuing medical education courses to stay up-to-date in current orthopaedic surgery knowledge and skills.
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, he/she may also recommend surgery if you do not respond to other treatments.
What are common Orthopaedic Surgery Procedures?
Orthopaedic surgeons perform numerous types of surgeries. Common procedures include:
Arthroscopy -- a procedure using 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.
What is Sports Medicine?
Sports medicine, also referred to as exercise science, is a focused study and application of the principals of physiology, anatomy, and psychology as they relate to human movement and physical activity. Exercise science is still quite young, and much of the field is focused on conducting research on the various adaptations to exercise or the lack of exercise, of the human body.
This work ranges from the elite athlete to the general population; children to elderly; and the physical components of fitness to the psychological. This base of scientific knowledge helps physicians such as Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Specialists and Primary Care Sports Medicine Physicians understand athletic injuries and the best ways to treat them.
What is Orthopaedic Sports Medicine?
Orthopaedic Sports Medicine is the branch of medicine focused on injuries or illness resulting from athletic activities. Orthopaedic Sports Medicine focuses on those injuries to the musculoskeletal system, but has knowledge in other areas of sports injuries, such as head injuries/concussions, heat stroke and exhaustion, and other problems seen in sports injuries.
If you think about it, Sports Medicine is a very broad subject besides Orthopaedic Sports Medicine which focuses on the bones and joints. There are other injuries and illnesses besides the musculoskeletal injuries, such as the heart and lungs, or heat injuries, or athletic performance in athletes with certain underlying health and medical problems.
Most Orthopaedic Sports Medicine specialists will have an understanding of the other non-Orthopaedic sports medicine problems, so that the athletes can be taken care of safely and effectively when the care is needed on the field or court.
What is a Sports Medicine Orthopaedist?
A Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Surgeon has received special training in the injuries sustained by athletes, with the expertise and procedures to get the athletic patient back into high performance. In recent years, most Orthopaedic Surgeons who choose to focus on Sports Medicine choose to undergo an additional year of training called a fellowship, as did Dr. Bell.
The expertise and techniques that are commonly focused on include arthroscopic surgery, ligament and tendon repairs, and surgeries from traumatic injuries such as fractures/broken bones, shoulder separations and dislocations, and ankle instability.
There is a newer field of expertise in Sports Medicine, called Primary Care Sports Medicine. Primary Care Sports Medicine physicians are not Orthopaedic Surgeons, but have specialized training in the field in medicine that deals with sport or exercise-related injuries. Their primary focus is on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of injuries that occur during sports and other physical activity. For patients with injuries requiring surgery, they refer to Orthopaedic Sports Medicine specialists.