What is Orthopedics?
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Orthopedics is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, treatment,
rehabilitation and prevention of 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, orthopedics
now cares for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet to young
athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery to older people with arthritis.
And anybody can break a bone.
Your orthopedist is skilled in the
- Diagnosis of your injury or disorder
- Treatment with medications, exercise, surgery or other treatment
- 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 most orthopedists practice general orthopedics some may specialize
in treating the foot, hand, shoulder, spine, hip, knee, and others in pediatrics,
trauma or sports medicine. Some may specialize in several areas.
Your orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor with extensive training in the
proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal
system. Your orthopedist completed up to 14 years of formal education.
After establishing a licensed practice, your orthopedic surgeon demonstrated
mastery of orthopedic knowledge by passing both oral and written examinations
given by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
- Four years of study in a college or university
- Four years of study in medical school
- Five years of study in orthopedic residency at a major medical center
- One optional year of specialized education
Each year your orthopedist spends many hours studying and attending continuing
medical education courses to maintain current orthopedic knowledge and skills.
Orthopedic patients have benefitted from technological advances such as
joint replacement and the arthroscope that allows the orthopedist to look
inside a joint, but your visit will start with a personal interview and
physical examination. This may be followed by diagnostic tests such as blood
tests, X-rays, or other tests.
Your treatment may involve medical counseling, medications, casts, splints,
and therapies such as exercise, or surgery. For most orthopedic diseases
and injuries there is more than one form of treatment. Your orthopedist
will discuss the treatment options with you and help you select the best
treatment plan to enable you to live an active and functional life.
copyright ©1992 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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