Orthopedic Surgery FAQ

What is orthopedic surgery?

Answer: Orthopedic surgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves (musculoskeletal system). Subspecialties within orthopedics include adult reconstruction, sports medicine, trauma, spine, foot, hand, shoulder, elbow, and orthopedic oncology. Orthopedics deals with issues related to the musculoskeletal system. This system comprises the body’s many bones, ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles.

What kind of education and training do orthopedic surgeons get?

Answer: Board-certified Orthopedic surgeons have received at least thirteen years of formal education. This includes time at an undergraduate university, medical school, and residency in a health care institution. Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons have received an extra year of education at an accredited fellowship program. These professionals also get new training every year to stay current on new findings and treatments.

What does it mean for an orthopedic surgeon to be board-certified?

Answer: When a doctor has completed their residency, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery provides a written test for them to become board-certified. Once this test has been passed, the surgeon can take the oral portion of the exam after two years. After that, the surgeon will have the title of Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. This process shows patients that their chosen orthopedic professional has the knowledge, experience, and skills to care for them.

What is the difference between a sports medicine doctor and an orthopedist?

Answer: A sports doctor focuses on nonoperative and nonsurgical treatments of sports-related conditions and injuries. Sports medicine surgeons (or orthopedic surgeons specializing in sports medicine) focus on nonoperative, nonsurgical, and surgical therapies.

Is surgery always necessary in orthopedic cases?

Answer: Although orthopedic surgeons are trained and experienced in providing surgery, they do not always prescribe this treatment. Non-surgical options like R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation), casting, physical therapy, and injections can be sufficient in many situations.

Surgical treatment options will vary depending upon your needs and may be used as a last resort. Arthroscopy, joint replacement, ligament reconstruction, fracture repair, and hand surgery are the most common orthopedic surgeries.

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Answer: This surgery is a non-invasive diagnostic and treatment option that is especially popular in sports medicine. The surgeon will make a small incision with thin needles and use special tools to conduct the procedure. You can have this surgery in a hospital or outpatient facility, and it usually doesn’t require more than a day.

How do injections work for orthopedic health issues?

Answer: Orthopedic injections aren’t like numbing shots from the dentist or a flu shot. These can be used for relief from pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Some common conditions they treat include arthritis, nerve pain, and tendonitis. Orthopedic injections can even be used to help diagnose health issues.

What do I need to know about joint replacement surgery?

Answer: Joint replacement is a surgical procedure, so it is not for those who could benefit more from non-invasive treatments. The orthopedic surgeon will replace the damaged joint with a prosthesis during this procedure. These can be ceramic, plastic, or metal. Doctors typically recommend joint replacement surgery for debilitating joint pain and damage where lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and injections don’t work.

What kind of metal is used in orthopedic surgery?

Answer: Implants are biomaterial devices. A biomaterial is any substance or combination of substances (other than a drug), synthetic or natural in origin, that can be used for any period as a whole or as part of a system that treats, augments, or replaces any tissue, organ, or function of the body.

Implants are essential in the practice of orthopedics. They are used in osteosynthesis, joint replacements, spine fixation, and tumor treatment.

Common implant materials in orthopedics are:

  • Metal alloy
  • Ceramics
  • Polymers

Does Medicare cover orthopedic surgery?

Answer: Medicare covers most medically necessary procedures.

Is spine surgery orthopedic or neurosurgery?

Answer: When the surgery is performed on the spine’s bones, your surgery is considered orthopedic spine surgery. Neurosurgery is performed when the brain, spine, spinal cord, nerves, or intraspinal vasculature are involved.

Is orthopedic surgery right for me?

Answer: Patients who have experienced trauma, such as car accidents or sports injuries, may need orthopedic surgery to correct broken bones, misaligned joints, or torn tendons. If you suffer from arthritis, bone diseases, or genetic deformities, an orthopedic surgeon can help.