Basics to orthopaedics

An orthopedist is amongst the most in-demand doctors today. But what do they deal with?

Orthopaedics is a branch of medicine that deals with the musculoskeletal system which includes bones, muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments. This branch of medicine focuses on surgical and nonsurgical approaches to treat back problems, joint pains and sports injuries among others.

There are two types of orthopedists: surgical and non-surgical. While those who perform surgeries are called orthopaedic surgeons, the ones who do not, include physical medicine specialists, physiatrists and rehabilitation specialists.

Orthopedists may often work in treatment teams including nurses, physical therapists, athletic trainers, etc.

What do orthopedists treat? 

Orthopedists treat a wide variety of conditions that may be the results of sports injuries, accidents, falls, conditions that may be present from childhood or wear and tear that happens due to age.

Bone fractures, back pain, neck pain, sports injuries like overuse, sprains, ligament tears, tendonitis, joint pains from arthritis, clubfoot, and scoliosis are some of the conditions treated by orthopedists.

What are the different types of orthopaedic practices?

Orthopedists sometimes may be specialists in sub-branches of orthopaedics.  Subspecialties of orthopaedics include foot and ankle, sports medicine, and trauma medicine/surgery: joint replacements, orthopaedic oncology including cancer care and tumour, spine surgeons and paediatric orthopaedics.

What are the treatments given by orthopedists?

Orthopedists might recommend one or more treatments to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine including tablets, sprays and ointments could be suggested. They might recommend home exercises, rehabilitation or physical therapy, acupuncture, and painkiller injections depending on the seriousness of the injury or the condition and the pain induced by it.

When all treatments fail, the orthopedists might suggest surgery but remember, that could be the last resort.

Now that we have a fair knowledge of what orthopaedics is all about and what orthopedists treat, in our next article, we will learn about what can be expected from the orthopedist, what questions you need to ask, diagnosis methods, what procedures are used and aftercare.