When Will I Need an Orthopedic Specialist?

Orthopedics is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of your body’s musculoskeletal system. This complex system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, allows you to actively move, work, and exercise.

Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, orthopedists now care for patients of all ages; from newborns with clubfeet, to young athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery; to older people with arthritis. Anyone is capable of breaking or fracturing a bone. Orthopedic specialists treat all problems of the musculoskeletal system. During your visit, the specialist will:


• Diagnose your injury or disorder.
• Treat with medication, exercise, casting, surgery or other options.
• Rehabilitate by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength and function.
• Offer prevention with information and treatment plans to prevent injury or slow the progression of disease.

While orthopedic specialists are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many of them specialize in specific areas, such as the foot and ankle, spine, shoulder, hand, hip or knee. They may even choose to further this focus on specific fields, such as pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine. Some orthopedic specialists may specialize in several areas.

During your doctor’s visit, your specialist will take a history of your illness or injury, followed by a physical examination. If necessary, the specialist may perform diagnostic studies such as x-rays or blood tests. They will then discuss your diagnosis and help you select the best treatment plan so that you can live an active and functional life.

Non-surgical Treatment Orthopedic specialists treat many musculoskeletal conditions without surgery. Instead, they may recommend using medication, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies. For most orthopedic diseases and injuries, there is more than one form of treatment. Only if necessary will your specialist recommend surgery if you do not respond to non-surgical treatments.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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