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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.


Orthopedic services

Definition

Orthopedics, or orthopedic services, aim at the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Information

There can be many medical problems that can affect the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Bone problems may include:

  • Bone deformities
  • Bone infections
  • Bone tumors
  • Fractures
  • Need for amputation
  • Nonunions: failure of fractures to heal
  • Malunions: fractures healing in a wrong position
  • Spinal deformities

Joint problems may include:

Common orthopedic-related diagnoses based on body part include:

ANKLE AND FOOT

HAND AND WRIST

SHOULDER

KNEE

  • Cartilage and meniscus injuries
  • Dislocation of the kneecap (patella)
  • Ligament sprains or tears (anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral collateral ligament tears)
  • Meniscus injuries
  • Loose or foreign bodies
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease
  • Pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Fractures

ELBOW

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocation or separation
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Loose or foreign bodies
  • Pain
  • Tennis or golfers elbow (epicondylitis or tendinitis)
  • Elbow stiffness or contractures
  • Fractures

SPINE

SERVICES AND TREATMENTS

Imaging procedures can help diagnose or even treat many orthopedic conditions. Your health care provider may order:

Sometimes, treatment involves injections of medicine into the painful area. This may involve:

  • Corticosteroid injections into joints, tendons, and ligaments, and around the spine
  • Hyaluronic acid injection to help relieve arthritis pain

Surgical procedures used in the treatment of orthopedics include:

  • Amputation
  • Arthroscopic surgeries
  • Bunionectomy and hammer toe repair
  • Cartilage repair or resurfacing procedures
  • Cartilage surgery to knee
  • Fracture care
  • Arthroplasty
  • Ligament reconstructions
  • Repair of torn ligaments and tendons
  • Spine surgery, including diskectomy, foraminotomy, laminectomy, and spinal fusion

Newer orthopedic services procedures include:

  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Advanced external fixation
  • Use of bone graft substitutes and bone-fusing protein

WHO IS INVOLVED

Orthopedic care often involves a team approach. Your team may include a doctor, a non-doctor specialist as well as others. Non-doctor specialists are professionals such as a physical therapist.

  • Orthopedic surgeons receive 5 or more extra years of training after school. They specialize in the care of disorders of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They are trained to manage joint problems with both operative and non-operative techniques.
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors have 4 or more extra years of training after medical school. They specialize in this type of care. They are also referred to as physiatrists. They do not perform surgery, although they can give joint injections.
  • Sports medicine physicians are doctors with experience in sports medicine. They have a primary specialty in family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. Most have 1 to 2 years of additional training in sports medicine through subspecialty programs in sports medicine. Sports medicine is a special branch of orthopedics. This provides complete medical care to active people of all ages.

Other doctors that may be a part of the orthopedics team include:

  • Neurologists
  • Pain specialists
  • Primary care doctors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Chiropractors

Non-doctor health professionals that may be a part of the orthopedics team include:

  • Athletic trainers
  • Counselors
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Vocational workers

References

Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Musculoskeletal system. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 21.

McGee S. Examination of the musculoskeletal system. In: McGee S, ed. Evidence-Based Physical Diagnosis. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 57.

Naples RM, Ufberg JW. Management of common dislocations. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 49.

Ralston SH, McInnes IB. Rheumatology and bone disease. In: Walker BR, Colledge NR, Ralston SH, Penman ID, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 25.