What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Nearly all people will suffer some kind of bone or joint injury or condition at some point in their lives. When they do, they may need to visit an orthopedic doctor or surgeon. The orthopedic specialty addresses problems with the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles that the body relies on to move and function normally. Whether degenerative, acute, or chronic, conditions such as arthritis, joint dislocations, back or hip pain can all be treated by an orthopedist.

Orthopedic Surgeons vs. Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic surgeries are common medical procedures, which leads people to call all orthopedists “orthopedic surgeons.” While orthopedic specialists and orthopedic surgeons both focus on the same specific area of medicine, they are two different types of physicians. Even though all orthopedic surgeons are orthopedic specialists, not all orthopedic specialists are orthopedic surgeons.

All orthopedic specialists – both surgical or non-surgical – are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat orthopedic problems using non-invasive treatments. Although orthopedic surgeons are qualified to perform surgery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. With today’s advanced knowledge and technology, reputable orthopedic specialists are more likely to their patients using advanced non-surgical techniques whenever possible. These techniques include non-invasive computer-assisted treatments to harvesting and growing a patient’s own cells for cartilage repair.

Non-surgical orthopedists are sometimes a starting point for patients who haven’t received a distinct diagnosis. Some orthopedic ailments can be successfully treated without surgery. However, if surgery becomes the best course of treatment, then the orthopedic specialist will direct patients to an orthopedic surgeon or include one in their care. On the other hand, some patients should see an orthopedic surgeon from the start if their diagnosis or suspected diagnosis could need surgery.

Orthopedic Practice Sub-Specialties

Some orthopedic surgeons specialize in one area of the body or in certain types of conditions or injuries. For example, some may focus on sports medicine while others build their practice around treating disorders of the hands, wrists, and arms.

Education and Training

Orthopedic surgeons must successfully complete at least 13 years of education and training, including:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree
  • Graduating from medical school
  • Completing a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery

Although it’s not required, they can also receive one year of education within an orthopedic subspecialty. To be officially recognized by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and become “board-certified,” an orthopedic surgeon must practice in their field for two years and then take a final exam.

What Do Orthopedic Surgeons Do?

An orthopedic surgeon can:

  • Diagnose orthopedic conditions or diseases
  • Prescribe and administer various treatments
  • Assist with rehabilitation
  • Develop long-term treatment strategies

Orthopedic surgeons can perform a broad range of procedures, including ankle, knee, hip, spinal, hand, and neck surgeries. However, they generally try to treat the problem in the most holistic and least invasive manner possible before resorting to surgery.

In addition to performing surgery on bones and joints, orthopedic surgeons can:

  • Remove excess fluid from specific body parts
  • Inject steroids or other medications into the problematic area
  • Perform joint manipulation
  • Inject fluid to distend joint capsules
  • Perform or order extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)

Conditions Treated by Orthopedic Surgeons

  • Orthopedic surgeons can treat many different problems of the bones, muscles, joints, and surrounding tissues, including:
  • Back pain, ruptured disks, and spinal stenosis
  • Bone tumors
  • Bone fractures
  • Injuries to tendons or ligaments, such as tendonitis, sprains, and ACL tears
  • Carpal tunnel, hand arthritis, and hand injuries
  • Club foot, bow legs, and hip dysplasia
  • Orthopedic trauma
  • Limb lengthening
  • Achilles tendon injuries, bunions, and foot and ankle injuries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

Orthopedic Surgical Procedures

When an orthopedic condition or injury doesn’t improve with conservative measures, an orthopedic surgeon will likely recommend and can perform surgery. Common operations performed by orthopedic surgeons include:

  • Joint replacements, such as knee and hip replacements
  • Internal fixation using as pins, plates, screws, and rods to help hold broken bones together in the right location while they heal
  • Fusion to connect two bones together which is a common neck and spine surgery
  • Osteotomy which is commonly used to treat arthritis by cutting a part of a bone and then repositioning it
  • Soft tissue repair to severely damaged muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • Release surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

Do You Need an Orthopedic Surgeon?

At Ceda Orthopedic Group, we know how painful and debilitating bone and joint conditions can be. Our orthopedic surgeons are well-qualified to help treat your ailments and injuries in the best way possible. Sometimes the best way is surgery, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, they will thoroughly assess your condition, provide you with a diagnosis, and involve you in creating a treatment plan. Call 1-800-388-CEDA today to schedule your appointment with one of our highly experienced orthopedic surgeons.