Orthopedics is a medical specialty that is specifically devoted to the care of the musculoskeletal system, meaning the anatomy of the human body, specifically muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves, joints, tendons, and connective tissues. Much of an orthopedic surgeon’s practice involves treating a variety of injuries medically with medication or surgery; or physically, through the use physical therapy, and durable medical equipment (DME), such as the application of braces, casts, or splints.
Orthopedic surgeons take care of a wide variety of problems that may be genetic, present at birth (congenital), or that may develop during a person’s lifetime. These injuries or conditions include, congenital deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, and degenerative conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
Following residency, an orthopedist may continue to get an additional one or two-year fellowships to add experience and achieve qualifications in other special interest areas, such as sports medicine, pediatrics, hand surgery, and more.
The field of orthopedics is very broad. As a whole, it encompasses a number of other areas of specialties or subspecialties. The most common subspecialties in the field of orthopedics include:
1. Sports Medicine: Many orthopedic surgeons go on to become fellowship-trained in sports medicine. This specialty training allows them to better treat athletes, weekend-warriors, and active people for sport-related injuries and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. Sports medicine experts can improve performance, and make sure that when patients do become injured, methods of physical therapy and exercise are used to treat the injury, maximize function and mobility, and return the athlete back to their game as quickly as possible.
2. Hand Surgery: Orthopedic surgeons specialize in certain body parts or techniques. Orthopedists that specialize in hand surgery focus on diagnosing and treating injuries and conditions affecting the hand and upper extremities, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, trigger finger, etc. As you can imagine, the hands are both vert delicate and complex, so it is a subspecialty where you can appreciate an orthopedic surgeons undivided attention.
3. Pediatric Orthopedics: Orthopedists can be trained to take care of children, with specialized training in pediatrics. Pediatric orthopedics help treat children suffering from orthopedic issues, including scoliosis, cerebral palsy, broken bones, etc. They know how to treat children and make them feel comfortable, and have a keen understanding of the aspect of growth and development.
4. Spine Surgery: Orthopedic surgeons can specialize in treating injury and conditions affecting the spine, as a result of disease, degeneration, or trauma.
5. Foot and Ankle Orthopedics (podiatry): Orthopedists also specialize in treating people who have issues with the foot and ankle, such as sprains and strains, or just the feet, treating conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, or problems associated with diabetes.
6. Joint Replacement: This is one of the most common subspecialties that orthopedic surgeons specialize in. They specifically take care of damaged or worn-out joints, due to age, wear and tear or overuse. The hip and knee are the most commonly replaced joints, and many surgeons specialize in this field.
7. Trauma Surgery: Injuries are often complex. Therefore, orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating and doing surgery in the trauma unit, meaning for injuries of the musculoskeletal system that are severe and critical. Since accidental trauma and injury can be quite random, an orthopedic trauma surgeon has to have an astounding understanding of the human anatomy and what the body should look like, compared to the traumatized area.
Orthopedic medicine covers quite a bit, so it’s important to find an orthopedic surgeon specialized in the area that you need care for. They can specialize in many things and have a lifetime of knowledge, to provide high-quality care for their patient’s needs.
To learn more about other fields that orthopedic surgeons specialize in, call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880, or request an appointment online. At Orthopaedic Associates, we like to think we have your care covered, from head to toe!