Orthopedic doctors are medical professionals who specialize in the human musculoskeletal system, and treating injuries or pain related to it.
The musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues – all areas an orthopedic doctor specializes in. They use surgical and non-surgical methods to treat injuries or conditions that affect patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
The Role of an Orthopedic Doctor
The role of an orthopedic doctor is to help patients maintain and improve their quality of life by restoring their mobility, reducing pain, and preventing further damage to injuries or tissues. Orthopedists are able to help patients who have suffered from a range of injuries or disorders, including fractures, sprains, strains, dislocations, cartilage and tendon tears, and other soft tissue injuries.
What Do Orthopedic Doctors Treat?
Some common conditions treated by orthopedists are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Back pain or Sciatica
- Bone tumors
- Herniated or ruptured discs
- Scoliosis or kyphosis (incorrect curves in the spine)
Common Musculoskeletal Conditions
Musculoskeletal conditions are conditions that affect the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues of the body. Some of the most common musculoskeletal conditions that orthopedic doctors treat include:
- Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage in the joints, causing pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- Fractures: A fracture is a break in a bone that can occur from a fall, an accident, or a sports injury.
- Sprains and strains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, while a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon.
- Tendon and ligament injuries: These injuries can range from mild strains to complete tears, depending on the severity of the injury.
- Bursitis: This is an inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints and help reduce friction between the bones, tendons, and muscles.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist, is compressed or pinched.
- Scoliosis: This is a curvature of the spine that can affect a person’s posture and mobility.
- Clubfoot: This is a congenital deformity of the foot that causes the foot to turn inward or downward.
Choosing the Right Orthopedic Surgeon
Choosing the right orthopedic surgeon is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
When looking for an orthopedic surgeon, it’s important to consider the surgeon’s credentials, experience, and specialization. A good orthopedic surgeon should be board-certified, have completed extensive training in orthopedic surgery, and have a strong track record of successful patient outcomes.
Importance of Specialization
When it comes to choosing an orthopedic surgeon, it is essential to consider the physician’s specialization. While many orthopedic surgeons are trained to treat a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions, some may have additional expertise in a specific area.
For instance, some orthopedic surgeons specialize in sports medicine, while others may focus on joint replacement surgery or spinal surgery. Choosing a surgeon who has extensive experience in treating your specific condition can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Considerations When Choosing an Orthopedist
When selecting an orthopedist, there are several factors to consider. These include:
- Experience: Look for a surgeon with a proven track record of success in treating your specific condition.
- Certification: Ensure that the surgeon is board-certified and has the necessary qualifications to perform the required procedures.
- Communication: Choose a surgeon who is easy to communicate with and takes the time to answer your questions and concerns.
- Hospital Affiliation: Ensure that the surgeon has privileges at a reputable hospital with a high success rate for orthopedic procedures.
- Insurance Coverage: Check to ensure that the surgeon accepts your insurance and is within your network.
When to See an Orthopedic Doctor
If you are experiencing persistent joint pain or have recently sustained an injury, it may be time to see an orthopedic doctor. Some common conditions that may require orthopedic care include:
- Fractures or Broken Bones
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Torn Tendons or Ligaments
- Hip Dysplasia
- Back Pain
When to Choose an Orthopedic Doctor Over a Primary Care Physician
While primary care physicians are trained to treat a wide range of medical conditions, they may not have the same level of expertise as an orthopedic doctor when it comes to treating musculoskeletal conditions. If you have a condition that requires specialized orthopedic care, it is essential to seek treatment from an orthopedic doctor.
Signs and Symptoms That Indicate a Need to See an Orthopedic Doctor
Some signs and symptoms that may indicate the need to see an orthopedic doctor include:
- Persistent Joint Pain
- Limited Range of Motion
- Swelling or Stiffness in Joints
- Persistent Back Pain
- Pain That Persists Despite Conservative Treatment
- Numbness or Tingling in Limbs
Treatment Methods Used by Orthopedic Surgeons
Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of treatment methods to address musculoskeletal conditions. These may include:
- Non-Surgical Methods: Conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication, injections, and immobilization may be recommended for certain conditions.
- Surgical Intervention as a Last Resort: When conservative treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary. Orthopedic surgeons may use a range of surgical techniques, including arthroscopic surgery, joint replacement surgery, and spine surgery.
Orthopedic doctors typically recommend non-surgical treatments as the first line of defense against musculoskeletal conditions. These treatments may include physical therapy, injections, pain medication, and lifestyle modifications. Physical therapy can help patients regain mobility, strength, and flexibility. Injections, such as corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Pain medications, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription opioids, can help manage chronic pain.
Lifestyle modifications can also help improve musculoskeletal conditions. Patients may need to modify their physical activity levels, lose weight, or change their diet to reduce inflammation. Orthopedic doctors may also recommend using assistive devices, such as braces or crutches, to help support the affected area.
Surgical Intervention as a Last Resort
If non-surgical methods do not provide relief, surgical intervention may be necessary. Orthopedic surgeons are highly trained in a variety of surgical procedures to treat musculoskeletal conditions. They may use arthroscopic surgery, joint replacement surgery, spine surgery, or other techniques to address the underlying problem.
Patients who require surgery typically have more severe or advanced musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis or a herniated disc. The decision to undergo surgery is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the patient’s medical history, current health status, and the expected outcome of the surgery.
Surgical procedures can be complex and may involve a lengthy recovery period. Orthopedic surgeons will work closely with their patients to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their individual needs and goals. This may include physical therapy, pain management, and follow-up appointments to monitor progress.
Skilled Orthopedic Doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina
Dr. Brett Gilbert is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who studied at Duke University for medical school and his orthopedic surgery training, and then at Rush in Chicago specializing in hip replacement and knee replacement surgeries. He focuses on conditions of the hip and knee, and Dr. Gilbert specializes in minimally invasive surgeries to get you back to your normal functioning as soon as possible.
Dr. Gilbert has three convenient locations in which to serve you in Raleigh, Apex, and Brier Creek. Call us today at (919) 788-8797 to schedule an evaluation of your orthopedic condition, or fill out our online request form.
Musculoskeletal injuries are the number-one reason for visits to the doctor. Don’t suffer from pain when we can address your condition. Call Dr. Gilbert today – we look forward to being your orthopedic healthcare partner!