An orthopaedic doctor is a professional who specializes in dealing with issues involving the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Someone who operates on those same body parts is considered an orthopedic surgeon. You may wonder, though, exactly what concerns someone in this field can help you to address. Let's dig into four specific issues that folks in the orthopaedics world regularly deal with.
Especially when trouble with one body part leads to issues with another, tracking down the problem can be trickier than you might imagine. An orthopaedic doctor can handle the diagnostic process, at least insofar as it involves bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Once those items have been ruled out, you have to go to a different sort of doctor, such as a neurologist, if the issue appears to be a nerve.
In the world of orthopaedics, an ounce of prevention is worth a lot more than just a pound of cure. By analyzing the problems a patient is experiencing, an orthopaedic doctor can help them come up with a prevention plan. Depending on their circumstances, this may include changes in diet, lifestyle, work habits, and even range of motion. In some cases, the doctor will send you to a physical or an occupational therapist to execute the plan. In some instances, medications or supplements may also be prescribed to foster prevention.
Although many professionals in the field are generalists, some do specialize. Individuals may visit specialists to discuss problems with the hip, knees, feet, or ankles. Some specialists also work exclusively on hands, shoulders, and elbows. A few engage in the more specialized practice of addressing problems with the neck and spine. There are also some specialists who focus on care for infants or the elderly.
Sometimes, going to an orthopaedic surgeon is the best way to address a problem. If you're a fan of sports, there's a good chance you can rattle off the list of surgeries that fall under the heading of orthopaedics. These include the reconstruction or replacement of several major joints, including the hip, knee, and shoulder. People with joint stability issues may also go to an orthopaedic surgeon for a procedure that fuses bones to provide greater stability.
Spinal surgeries are frequently performed by orthopaedists, too, particularly specialists. For example, the very delicate procedure to remove herniated discs is usually performed by an orthopaedic surgeon.