What is Orthopedics
Orthopedics Greek roots
The word orthopedic comes from the mixing of the two Greek words “orthos” and “paideia.” The root ortho translates to straight, or correct. The root paideia translates to “rearing of children.” The term orthopedic has expanded over time to include so much more than its humble origins of straightening bowing and pigeon-toed legs in children. These days the field of orthopedics encompasses both deformity and trauma in bones and soft tissues supporting the bones. From head to toe orthopedics treats almost every bone except for the skull, jaw, and ribs.
What does an orthopedic surgeon do?
Orthopedic surgeons treat many more patients without surgery than with. Most patients with musculoskeletal issues respond to conservative treatments ranging from oral medications and behavior modification to physical therapy, injectable medications. If you find yourself at an orthopedic surgeon with an acute or chronic condition they will first physically and verbally assess you to narrow down the possibilities of a diagnosis. When a diagnosis requires imaging, you may receive x-rays, MRI’s, CT Scans, sonograms, or possibly even a combination of the above with or without contrast. Once your orthopedic surgeon comes to a diagnosis, they will lay out your roadmap to recovery. Some conditions and tests indicate the immediate use of surgical intervention, but most cases start with simple fixes that often just take some special attention and time.
Types of Conservative orthopedic treatments
Conservative treatments in orthopedics vary based on the condition. In some cases, the surgeon wants to get the tissues moving while other conditions require rest for the damage to heal. Some conditions don’t require much except for time so the surgeon may only treat the symptoms such as muscle spasms, swelling, or pain.
Anti-inflammatory orthopedic treatments
NSAIDs, or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have use in many cases to reduce minor swelling and minor amounts of pain. In cases where treatment requires their use for longer than two weeks your surgeon may write a specialized prescription that contains medications to prevent peptic ulcers. Common NSAIDs include Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Motrin, and Aleve.
Stronger anti-inflammatory treatments include oral steroids, intramuscular steroid injections, joint injections, and imaging guided injections. While surgeons can administer many injections in clinic the imaging guided injections performed under x-ray guidance by other specialists usually in a hospital under varying degrees of anesthesia. At AOA Orthopedic specialists we have two subspecialties that perform epidural steroid injections under x-ray video, called a fluoroscope, our anesthesiologist practicing interventional pain management, and our physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors.
Bracing orthopedic conditions
Conditions such as the varying degrees of sprains and strains may require the use of immobilization to heal properly, as well as conditions that manifest from overuse. Bracing simply keeps you from activating irritated tissues while they heal at rest.
If you fracture a bone you may receive a brace while waiting to see an orthopedic surgeon so that you refrain from causing further tissue damage, but orthopedic surgeons usually use casts to treat most fractures.
Casting orthopedic fractures
Bones require four to six weeks to heal without being further damaged. While some fractures can heal with the use of brace in a pinch, we often with immobilize the set fracture with a cast to reduce the chance of a non-union due to non-compliance. The cast consists of two parts: a soft lining for your comfort with a hard fiberglass shell wrapped over it to immobilize the area until the bone has healed. Follow up to remove the cast involves a specialized reciprocating saw that tears through the immobile fiberglass while safely only vibrating flexible skin on accidental contact.
Injectables used in orthopedics
Orthopedic surgeons utilize injectables such as steroids to reduce inflammation. In cases of joint disease there are classes of injections involving hyaluronic acid to increase the hydration of the joint capsule in attempt to reduce damage to cartilage. Other injectables include biologics such as platelet rich plasma, and stem cells. Some of these biological injections derive from yourself such as platelet rich plasma and stem cells we can harvest from you. Some stem cell injections are from outside tissue such as in the case of stems cells harvest from a placenta or umbilical cord.
Orthopedic surgery involves both elective and non-elective conditions to repair or replace damaged structures to restore the proper use of either muscles, connective tissues, bones, or nerves. At AOA Orthopedic Specialists we have orthopedic surgeons dedicated to small windows of treatment as well as specialists that see combinations of specialties. The specialties we offer include: lower extremity subspecialists or foot and ankle, sports medicine specialists, total joint replacement specialists that focus on a combination of knee, hip, and shoulders, we have specialists for the upper extremity or hand, wrist, and elbow, we also have spine specialists, and due to the incidental finding of bone cancers we brought on an orthopedic oncology specialist.
AOA Orthopedic Specialists
At AOA Orthopedic specialists we have dedicated ourselves to providing the most current techniques from the most competent surgeons available. No matter your orthopedic need we have choices available to you of the highly competent specialists in your condition.