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Orthopadics is a medical specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions, disorders, and injuries of the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. A doctor who specializes in this medical specialty is called an orthopedic surgeon or orthopedist.

The orthopedic surgeons provide treatment for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including:

  • fractures and dislocations
  • torn ligaments, sprains, and strains
  • tendon injuries, pulled muscles, and bursitis
  • ruptured disks, sciatica, low back pain, and scoliosis
  • arthritis and osteoporosis
  • knock knees, bow legs, bunions, and hammer toes
  • bone tumors, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
  • club foot and unequal leg length
  • abnormalities of the fingers and toes and other growth abnormalities

The word arthritis literally means “joint inflammation.” Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that damages the lining surrounding our joints while also destroying our bones, tissue, and joints over time.

Cartilage is a soft, rubbery, gel-like coating on the ends of bones, where they articulate, that protects joints and facilitates movement.


A ligament is an elastic band of tissue that connects bone to bone and provides stability to the joint.

A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone.

Your physician will be able to conduct tests such as X-Rays or bone scans to determine for certain if you have a sprain or a fracture. Keep in mind that a sprain is an injury to the ligaments (tissues that connect your bones), whereas a fracture is an injury to your bone. Sprains heal with time and rest, but a fracture will require some type of treatment (splint, cast, crutches, wheelchair and/or surgery).

Arthritis symptoms may vary depending on which type you have. However, the most common arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion. Your doctor can perform laboratory tests to determine if you do in fact have arthritis.

Generally, no. This depends on which type of diagnostic procedure you are undergoing, but most orthopedic injuries or conditions require the use of imaging and radiology tests like X-rays, bone scans or other exams, which are painless. When diagnosing arthritis, a doctor may perform minimally invasive laboratory tests that require a sample of joint fluid, however this should not be a severely painful procedure. They may also use computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound, which are not invasive or painful.

Depending on the type of diagnostic imaging procedure, these exams are generally safe for pregnant women. No single diagnostic X-ray results in radiation exposure enough to threaten the health of the developing embryo or fetus. However, your doctor can work with you to determine the safest diagnostic imaging method.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for deciding when to have surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon or other doctors will help you determine when surgery is the most appropriate next step. Key considerations include whether you’re in pain, if you’re experiencing instability or decreased mobility, and whether the injury or condition is affecting your quality of life.

With just about any orthopedic surgical procedure, including joint replacement surgery and revision surgery (replacing a worn-out artificial joint from a previous surgery), you’ll have some pain and swelling. Your doctor and clinical team will work with you to effectively manage your pain and ensure you’re healing as expected.

Minimally invasive surgery uses medical instruments and cameras that let doctors see the area being operated on without the need for large incisions. Minimally invasive surgery accomplishes the same treatment goals as traditional open surgery, but typically results in:

  • Smaller incisions.
  • Less damage to surrounding muscles and tissues.
  • Less blood loss.
  • Shorter hospital stays.
  • Less scarring.
  • Speedier recovery times.

Arthroplasty is the reconstruction or replacement of a joint such as a shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee or ankle. Depending on the extent of the joint injury or condition, you may need partial or total arthroplasty.

Arthroscopic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery that requires only small incisions thanks to a device known as an arthroscope. It lets your surgeon see inside the body and view the specific area being worked on during surgery without the need for large incisions.

In your joint there is a layer of cartilage between the bones. Cartilage is designed to allow motion and cushion for the joint. Arthritis is when the cartilage is wearing away. This causes the bones in the joint to rub against each other causing pain and stiffness.

Total knee replacement involves resurfacing the bones of the knee joint. There are three bony surfaces that can become rough and painful: the femur, tibia, and patella (knee cap). Depending on your condition, one, two, or all three of these surfaces may be replaced. The type of orthopedic surgery you have depends on your age, the amount of damage to your knee, and your medical history.

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