If you are suffering from an orthopedic injury or condition, you might first consult with your primary care physician. In most cases, however, your doctor will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon – and here’s why.
Orthopedic surgeons are doctors who specialize in the musculoskeletal system – namely, your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, all of which are essential to your mobility.
With more than 200 bones and connective tissue in your body, you can imagine just how in-demand orthopedic surgeons are, especially among patients dealing with arthritis, hip or back pain, dislocated joints, and a host of acute, chronic, and degenerative disorders.
Let’s take a closer look at who orthopedic surgeons are and the services they provide.
Qualifications and Services of an Orthopedic Surgeon
Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in particular areas of the body, such as foot and ankle, hand and wrist, or neck and spine. Additionally, orthopedic doctors may focus on a specific field of orthopedics, like sports medicine, trauma, or pediatrics.
A board-certified orthopedic surgeon is one who has successfully completed a minimum of 13 years of formal education, including four years of undergraduate study at a college or university, four years of study at a school of medicine, and five years of study at a major medical institution.
A board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon has completed all of the above, plus a year of specialized education in an accredited fellowship program. To stay current in orthopedic knowledge and skills, all orthopedic surgeons continue their medical education each year.
Most Common Procedures Performed by an Orthopedic Surgeon
When you visit an orthopedic surgeon for treatment of a painful condition, your first appointment will most likely include a comprehensive medical history evaluation, diagnostic imaging (X-rays and/or MRI), and certain physical tests. These will be used to come to a diagnosis.
After your condition or injury has been diagnosed, the orthopedic surgeon will discuss treatment options, many of which are non-surgical. Orthopedic surgeons don’t only perform surgery. They always prefer to treat patients non-surgically first, as these treatments are not only successful for many patients, but they are also safe, affordable, less risky, and require a shorter recovery period.
If surgery is warranted, an orthopedic surgeon may be trained to perform the following procedures, depending on their specialization:
- Total Knee Replacement–As the second most common cause of chronic pain in the United States, chronic knee pain often requires joint replacement surgery when a person is unable to perform everyday tasks due to severe knee pain. During this procedure, the ends of the bones that meet at the joint are removed, and prosthetic implants are installed in their place. Once healed, the new joint components mimic the natural knee’s functions, thus giving the patient their full mobility back with no pain.
- Partial Shoulder Replacement –This is performed to treat an injury such as a severely torn rotator cuff and is often used to relieve painful conditions such as osteoarthritis. Also known as hemiarthroplasty, it is a procedure in which the head of the humerus bone in the upper arm is replaced with a prosthetic ball, but the natural socket is left intact.
- Total Shoulder Replacement–There are two different methods for this procedure –traditional arthroplasty and reverse arthroplasty. In traditional arthroplasty, the existing ball and socket surfaces of the shoulder are replaced with similarly shaped prosthetics. With reverse arthroplasty, the positions of the shoulder joint’s ball and socket are switched, with the ball at the top of the upper arm bone replaced with a socket-shaped prosthetic and the socket replaced with a prosthetic ball.
- Partial Hip Replacement– This type of surgery is most often performed to repair certain types of hip fractures. During a partial replacement, the femoral head (or ball) of the hip is removed and replaced with either a ceramic or metal ball that is attached to a metal stem, which is set into the femur and the socket is left intact.
- Total Hip Replacement–A total hip replacement involves the replacement of the femoral head and neck and the removal of any damaged cartilage in the pelvis. Available types of bearing surfaces for total hip replacements include metal on metal, ceramic on ceramic, and the metal ball on the plastic liner, which lasts about 20 years in young, active patients and, therefore, is the most recommended.
- Spinal Fusion–This type of surgery can help relieve back pain symptoms caused by conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolistheses, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis, as well as fractured vertebrae, a herniated disc, infection, or a tumor. Two or more vertebrae are fused together, healing into a single, solid bone, thus restoring the stability of the spine and/or eliminating painful motion.
Orthopedic Surgeon in Mount Ayr, Iowa
As we age, orthopedic disorders and injuries become more common, which is why so many people require the services of an orthopedic surgeon. If you are one of them, you can rely on Ringgold County Hospital for the care and treatment you need. Our specialty outpatient clinics have a diverse group of providers for you, right where you live.