What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Specialize In?
An orthopedic doctor, sometimes referred to as an orthopedic surgeon, specializes in the diseases and conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system (i.e., bones, muscles, joints, nerves, ligaments and tendons). They diagnose and treat injuries and chronic conditions such as broken bones and arthritis. Following a serious injury or surgery, orthopedic doctors also help with directing rehabilitation to improve a patient’s strength, flexibility and range of motion.
While all orthopedic surgeons are familiar with the entire musculoskeletal system, some focus their practice on subspecialty areas, including:
- Shoulder and elbow
- Hip and knee
- Foot and ankle
- Trauma surgery
- Sports medicine
What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Do?
- Treat and prevent injury – Orthopedic doctors help patients suffering from muscle injuries, tendon tears or ruptures, compression and stress fractures, broken bones and dislocations. They can also develop a treatment and prevention plan for reducing the likelihood of injury recurrence.
- Improve flexibility and range of motion – Using treatments like physical therapy and surgery (if needed), orthopedic doctors seek to reduce pain caused by stiffness and swelling in the joints. In more severe cases, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest an operation such as a total or partial knee replacement.
What Musculoskeletal Conditions Can an Orthopedic Doctor Treat?
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Trigger finger
- Ankle sprains
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Meniscus injuries
- Ligament tears
- Tennis elbow
- Bone tumors
- Hip and knee sprains
- Rotator cuff tendonitis or injuries
- Runner’s knee
What Are Conservative Treatments?
Upon your first consultation with an orthopedic doctor, they will assess your injury or condition and provide a recommended course of treatment. They usually begin with non-surgical (otherwise known as conservative) treatments before recommending surgical methods.
Conservative treatments include:
- Exercising or stretching
- Immobilizing the affected area using braces, casts or splints
- Modifying a patient’s lifestyle or diet
- Prescribing medications to reduce pain and inflammation
What Surgical Treatments are Performed by Orthopedic Surgeons?
If at-home remedies and conservative treatments don’t resolve a patient’s musculoskeletal injury or condition, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgery.
These are some of the operations and procedures an orthopedic surgeon can perform:
- Joint replacement (i.e., shoulder, knee or hip replacement surgery)
- Ligament reconstruction
- Internal fixation (rods or plates with screws)
- Soft tissue repair
- Carpal tunnel or trigger finger release
Who Should See an Orthopedic Doctor?
Most people will experience some level of joint pain in their lives. If the pain or impact on mobility is severe enough, they will likely need to see an orthopedic specialist to diagnose and treat their injury or condition.
Musculoskeletal diseases and injuries can have a variety of root causes, including, but not limited to, overuse, aging, sports or physical activity. You don’t necessarily need to be a highly active person to experience joint pain. Daily activities, like lifting heavy boxes or sitting at a desk all day at work, can affect the musculoskeletal system as easily as playing sports or working out.
Pay attention to things like poor posture, repetitive motions, prolonged computer usage and working for long periods of time without taking a break.
You may need to see an orthopedic doctor if you are experiencing pain in the following body parts:
When Should You See an Orthopedic Doctor?
Do your best to pay attention to your body and watch for signs of persistent joint pain or changes in your range of motion. Of course, you will likely need to see your primary care physician or an orthopedic doctor if you have been injured.
An orthopedic doctor may be able to help if you:
- Have difficulty performing daily activities such as getting into a vehicle or bending over
- Are experiencing recurring pain or swelling of a bone, muscle or joint lasting longer than three months
- Feel a numbness or tingling sensation in your extremities
- See a substantial decrease in mobility in joints like your elbow, knee or shoulder
- Feel pain and discomfort whenever you walk
Specialized Orthopedic Treatment in Roseburg, Oregon
If you have dealt with joint pain for months, it may be time to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. At Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry, we provide thorough diagnoses and personalized treatment plans for patients with osteoarthritis, sports injuries and more.
We specialize in a wide range of orthopedic and podiatric treatments such as adult and pediatric fracture care, carpal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis.
To schedule your consultation, call 541-229-2663 or send us a message.