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Know Your Orthopaedic

The human body has often been compared to a well-oiled machine with various parts that work codependently to ensure that a person can function and live life. Just like any complex structure, even the human body requires a foundation upon which it need to be built. Bones act as an anchor that holds tissue, skin, and organs together. Bones also ensure that humans can enjoy mobility and strength, both of which are necessary for survival. However, even bones are susceptible to damage resulting from wear and tear. To that end, you might require specific medical care from a doctor with expertise in bones. Such bone specialists are known as orthopaedic doctors.

Who is an orthopaedic doctor?

Orthopaedic doctors are generally known as bone doctors. They commonly practice in a specialised medical field known as orthopaedics. This field focuses on any diseases or illnesses that affect a person’s musculoskeletal system, including parts like bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints, and nerves

Usually, individuals visit an orthopaedic doctor when they find themselves injured or experiencing ailments like arthritis or back pain. Such medical professionals also perform surgeries if and when needed. Some of their duties are as listed here:

  • Orthopaedicians diagnose and treat conditions related to the musculoskeletal system.
  • Orthopaedic doctors assist in rehabilitation to help patients regain movement, range of motion, strength, and flexibility after surgery or injury.
  • Orthopaedicians form strategies to prevent any injury or chronic conditions from getting worse.

Apart from these general duties, medical professionals in the field of orthopaedics can choose to further specialise and hone their expertise in a particular area.

Different type of Procedures performed by orthopaedic doctors

Since orthopaedic consultants and doctors handle numerous conditions, they also perform a wide array of procedures. The two broad categories are as listed here:

Non-surgical treatments

Non-surgical treatments are also known as conservative treatments. Usually, these procedures precede any recommendation for a surgery. The treatments include the following:

  • Exercise: An orthopaedic doctor might recommend that a patient carry out certain exercises that help maintain or improve flexibility, strength, range of motion, etc. in a particular region.
  • Immobilisation: Sometimes, moving an area can cause more damage. Thus, orthopaedic doctors suggest immobilisation techniques that help prevent movement and associated strain. These include braces, splints, casts, etc.
  • Medication: An orthopaedic doctor might also recommend medication to alleviate symptoms like swelling or pain. While sometimes it can be over-the-counter medicines, they may also opt for prescription drugs, like steroids and anti-inflammatory medicine, if needed.
  • Lifestyle changes: An orthopaedic doctor might also suggest lifestyle changes like physical activity, diet, etc.

Surgical treatments

If conservative treatments do not help in recovery of an injury or illness, an orthopaedic doctor might recommend surgery. The surgical procedures recommended might include:

  • Joint Replacement: An orthopaedic surgeon might have to replace parts of a joint if it becomes damaged or diseased.
  • Internal fixation: This procedure involves placing hardware like pins, screws, plates, rods, etc. to help hold broken bones while they heal.
  • Fusion: This procedure involves using a bone graft along with internal fixation to connect two bones. Upon healing, the tissue fuses into one bone.
  • Osteotomy: Under this procedure, a part of the bone is cut and repositioned.

When to consult an orthopaedic doctor?

You might have to consult an orthopaedic doctor if you are experiencing bone-, joint-, ligament-, and/or tendon-related pain, discomfort, or certain symptoms. For instance:

  • You experience pain or swelling in a bone, joint, or muscle that persists and does not abate with care or basic medication.
  • You see a decrease in your mobility and range of motion when it comes to a joint like your knee, shoulder, and/or elbow.
  • You have trouble carrying out your daily activities.
  • You experience nerve-related symptoms like numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles in your arms or legs.
  • You have sustained an injury to a bone or joint that might require special attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

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