Orthopaedics (also called orthopaedic surgery) is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of your body's musculoskeletal system. This complex system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, allows you to move, work, and be active.
Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, orthopaedists now care for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet to young athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery to older people with arthritis. And anybody can break a bone at any age.
What Does an Orthopaedic Surgeon Do?
Orthopaedic surgeons treat problems of the musculoskeletal system. This involves:
Diagnosis of your injury or disorder
Treatment with medication, injections, casting, bracing, surgery, or other options
Rehabilitation by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength, and function
Prevention with information and treatment plans to prevent injury or slow the progression of disease
While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as:
Foot and ankle
Hand and wrist
Hip replacement and reconstruction
Knee replacement and reconstruction
Orthopaedic oncology (bone tumors)
Pediatric orthopaedic surgery
Shoulder and elbow
Some orthopaedic surgeons may specialize in multiple areas, and several different types of specialists may treat the same conditions. For instance, sports medicine surgeons, shoulder and elbow surgeons, and hand and wrist surgeons all perform surgery on the elbow.