What Do Orthopedic Surgeons Do?
Orthopedic surgeons provide care for joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, and tissues. Also known as orthopedists or orthopedic doctors, these providers routinely see injuries to the knee, shoulder, elbow, hip, spine, hand, foot, and many other parts of the body.
Some orthopedic surgeons choose to complete additional training in a type of surgery to refine their surgical skills. This area of focus is called a subspecialty.
What Are the Subspecialties in Orthopedic Surgery?
Within orthopedics, there are eight subspecialties:
- Sports medicine: sports medicine doctors receive fellowship training in injuries and conditions that commonly affect athletes, weekend warriors, and other active lifestyles
- Hand and upper extremity: hand and upper extremity specialists see conditions from the shoulder down to the hand
- Foot and ankle: orthopedic foot and ankle specialists differ themselves from podiatrists with additional education and training for other areas of the body
- Spine: spine specialists are experts in treating back and neck conditions
- Joint Replacement: Damaged joints may be replaced with artificial inserts by orthopedic specialists
- Oncology: orthopedic oncologists treat tumors in the bone and tissue
- Trauma: orthopedic trauma surgeons provide emergency and reconstructive care for patients
- Pediatrics: pediatric orthopedic surgeons work with children to treat conditions more prevalent in their age group
What Is Orthopedic Sports Medicine?
Sports medicine is an orthopedic subspecialty concentrated on athletic care, including treatment of musculoskeletal injury and return to sport.
Orthopedic sports medicine doctors follow their residency with a year of fellowship training in the sports medicine subspecialty.
These orthopedists treat many injuries causing knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, and hip pain.
Common Conditions Orthopedic Doctors Treat
Orthopedists treat many conditions throughout the body. Some of the more common conditions include:
- ACL tears
- Meniscus tears
- Rotator cuff tears
- UCL tears
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Achilles’ tendon tears
- Plantar fasciitis
- Labral tears of the shoulder
- Labral tears of the hip
- Hip dysplasia
- Herniated discs
- Low back pain
- Tennis elbow
Subspecialized Orthopedist Education and Training Requirements
Undergrad and Medical School
Individuals pursuing a career in orthopedics begin their education with undergraduate degree in science, followed by four years of medical school.
Upon completing medical school, orthopedic doctors are required to complete five years of residency where they rotate between several subspecialties. It can be difficult getting into an orthopedic residency.
Fellowship (Subspecialized Orthopedists)
After four years of medical school and five years of orthopedic residency, orthopedic surgeons may choose to spend an additional year completing a fellowship.
Fellowships allow for additional practice with a single orthopedic subspecialty.
How Long Does it Take to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon?
Between education and training, it generally takes 13-15 years to become an orthopedic doctor.
Where Do Orthopedic Surgeons Work?
Orthopedic surgeons can practice privately, or they can work in hospitals or medical centers. Some doctors are available in orthopedic urgent care clinics.
Orthopedic urgent care practices provide same-day access for bone and joint injuries.
Can I Be Seen without a Referral?
Yes, you can be seen by an orthopedic specialist without a referral from a primary care provider. You can turn to alternatives such as Google search or social media to find the best orthopedic surgeon near you.
What Is Arthroscopic Surgery in Orthopedics?
Arthroscopy is an orthopedic procedure that allows surgeons to examine or treat damaged joints using minimally invasive techniques.
Arthroscopic surgery uses an instrument called an arthroscope to create a tiny incision through the skin that covers an injured joint. Once the incision is created, the physician can view the inside of the joint on a monitor in the surgical room via a camera attached to the arthroscope.
Arthroscopic Surgery Is Used to:
- Examine extent of an injury: Arthroscopic surgery may be used to determine the extent to which a joint is damaged
- Treat an injury: Arthroscopic surgery may also be used to repair ligaments, cartilage, and inflamed tissues
Arthroscopic Surgery Procedures
Arthroscopic surgery may be performed to treat joint inflammation and repair loose cartilage or bone fragments. Some of the conditions orthopedists use arthroscopy to treat are:
- ACL Tears
- Meniscus Tears
- Rotator Cuff Tears
- Shoulder or hip impingement
- Carpal tunnel syndrome=
Advantages of Arthroscopic Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery offers a few advantages over open surgery:
Because it is less invasive than open surgery, arthroscopic surgery generally offers a quicker recovery time. This also means that is also less pain and complications associated with arthroscopic surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery is also usually performed in an outpatient setting. This means patients can leave the surgical facility the same day of surgery.
Can Orthopedic Specialists Read MRI?
Yes. An orthopedic surgeon may combine the use of MRI with their knowledge of injury location and a physical examination to determine a diagnosis.
Who Is the Best Orthopedic Surgeon Near Me?
Surgery is a big undertaking that can impact the rest of your life. You should do your due diligence finding a skilled physician for surgical treatment of your joint pain.
There are several places you can turn to find the best orthopedic surgeon near you.
- Online Reviews: platforms for like Google, Healthgrades, and Yelp offer the opportunity for people to post feedback
- Referring Providers: you can ask your primary care provider or a number of other healthcare workers who they recommend or turn to for their own orthopedic care
- Ask a Friend: in all likelihood, you know someone that has been treated by an orthopedist; ask around for recommendations
Orthopedic Specialists in Nashville, TN
Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics has 12 fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons in Nashville, TN.