What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?


Quick Answer

An orthopedic surgeon treats musculoskeletal diseases, injuries and deformities, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The musculoskeletal system involves all the bones, muscles, joints and nerves that contribute to mobility as well as connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments.

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What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
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Full Answer

Orthopedic surgeons handle diverse medical conditions, ranging from back and neck pain to hip bursitis and osteoarthritis, according to Rush University Medical Center. They also treat foot, hand and limb complications that affect skeletal alignment or interfere with comfortable movement, such as painful bunions, clubfoot, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis and scoliosis. In collaboration with other specialists, orthopedic surgeons help patients cope with musculoskeletal cancers, soft tissue and bone sarcomas.

Orthopedic surgeons may provide general care for all musculoskeletal issues or specialize in specific body areas, including the feet, spine or hips, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons undergo at least 13 years of training in undergraduate college, medical school and orthopedic residency. They can also earn certifications in specialized fields, such as sports medicine and pediatrics.

Despite their title, orthopedic surgeons often pursue rehabilitative treatments before resorting to invasive surgeries, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. They frequently use physical therapy, exercise and medication to help patients strengthen injured muscles and connective tissues. When necessary, these specialists surgically remove or reposition bones, joints and tissues to correct problems that do not respond to other treatments.

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