Orthopedics is a medical field that focuses on diseases or conditions of your musculoskeletal system. The examination focuses on bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints, and nerves. This field is handled by orthopedic specialists.
Come on, find out more about an examination with an orthopedic doctor and what can be treated.
What is an orthopedic doctor?
Orthopedic specialists are doctors who focus on problems with bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Doctors with this specialty must be familiar with the entire musculoskeletal system, and understand the different types of joints and how they work.
The scope of orthopedics itself is very broad considering there are more than 200 bones arranged in the human body. Therefore, the focus of examination in orthopedics is further divided into sub-specialties that focus on more specific body parts.
For example, the hand orthopedic sub-specialist only examines conditions affecting the hand and wrist. While the spinal sub-specialist focuses on conditions affecting the spine and neck.
Later, the doctor will diagnose, provide treatment, and prevent orthopedic problems that may occur in the future.
Some of the conditions that an orthopedic doctor can treat include:
- Joint or back pain
- Sprained joints
- Muscle tension
- Injury to tendons or ligaments
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Bone cancer
How is the examination with the orthopedic doctor going?
As with general examinations, the orthopedic doctor will first perform a physical examination when diagnosing your condition. The presence of lumps bulges in the spine, and spots or bruising can be an indication of musculoskeletal disease.
Doctors usually ask what kind of pain you feel, how severe and often the pain occurs, and whether it has started to interfere with your daily activities.
Then, the doctor will also ask for your medical history to determine if the pain is due to an underlying condition such as arthritis or diabetes.
Your doctor may also ask you to bend over, walk, climb stairs, and sit down to test your range of motion. From here, the doctor evaluates the movement ability, and flexibility, and narrows the estimate of potential conditions for a more accurate diagnosis.
The orthopedic doctor may tell you to move other parts of the body that are not painful. Some pain can sometimes be caused by problems in other parts of the body. For example, shoulder pain can be caused by problems in the spine or neck.
If the physical examination is not able to give a clear picture of your condition, the doctor will refer you for further tests, including x-rays or an MRI scan. This test can help your doctor find signs of swelling, fractures, or infection.
Later, when you have established a diagnosis, your doctor will discuss treatment options to treat your condition.
What procedures can an orthopedist perform?
In addition to diagnosing and giving medicines, orthopedic doctors can also provide other treatments such as rehabilitative therapy, surgery, or other alternatives.
Sometimes, treating musculoskeletal diseases with drugs alone is not enough. Therefore, doctors can recommend physical therapy such as manual therapy or mobilization therapy.
If non-surgical treatment is not helpful enough, the doctor can perform a surgical procedure. Generally, some of the types of surgery performed include:
- Arthroscopy: a procedure to treat joint problems that involves inserting a camera device that can show images inside the joint.
- Internal fixation: method to hold the broken pieces of bone in the proper position with metal plates, screws or pins.
- Fusion: a “welding” process in which the bones are joined together with bone grafts and internal devices such as metal bars.
- Joint replacement surgery: removal of a joint that has been partially or completely damaged.
- Osteotomy: correction of bone deformity by cutting and positioning the bone in the right place.
- Soft bone tissue repair: to repair torn tendons or ligaments.
When to see an orthopedic doctor?
Sometimes, you need to get a referral from a general practitioner first. Especially if you also have symptoms other than musculoskeletal problems.
An immediate examination by an orthopedic specialist is only needed if you:
- Have chronic joint pain (more than 12 weeks),
- The range of motion is limited
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Pain, stiffness, or discomfort begins to make daily activities difficult,
- Experiencing progressive weakness or numbness in the arm or leg area, as well as
- Have a sprain or soft tissue injury that doesn’t improve or gets worse after a few days.