About Orthopaedic Speciality
An orthopaedic doctor is a trained medical professional who diagnoses and treats diseases related to musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, nerves, etc.) in men, women and children. Arthritis, joint pain, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Bowed Legs, Bursitis, Hammer Toe, Spinal Fractures, Tendonitis, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Frozen Shoulder, Shoulder Impingement, Tennis Elbow, Muscular Dystrophy etc. are some of the medical conditions that an orthopaedic doctor provides treatment for.
In order to become a certified orthopaedic doctor, one must complete graduation from a medical college followed by 4-year medical program and 2 to 4 years of residency program. After that, orthopaedic doctors may pursue education in a subspecialty area which includes adult joint reconstruction and hip preservation, foot and ankle, hand and upper extremity, microsurgery, musculoskeletal problems, paediatric orthopaedics, spine problems and sports medicine.
When to see an orthopaedic?
You must consider visiting an orthopaedic if you are experiencing pain in your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, joints or back. Following are certain symptoms which should require immediate attention of an orthopaedic doctor.
- Difficulty performing daily tasks such as walking upstairs, carrying bags etc
- Persistent pain in muscles, tendons, or joints
- Intense, irresistible joint pain
- Inflammation or bruising around the joint or the location of an injury
- Inability to straighten the back
- Joint deformity
- Abnormal symptoms in the pain region
When treatments provided by orthopaedic doctors fail to eliminate pain and other symptoms, they may recommend surgery. Some orthopaedic doctors perform spine surgeries and ankle, knee, shoulder, and hip replacements. In addition to these, they also perform a range of arthroscopic procedures which help them deal with internal problems of a joint.
Medical conditions treated by an orthopaedic doctor:
Arthritis refers to a swelling of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. Two common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis
Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness of the skin around the joint, decreased range of motion, loss of appetite due to the inflammation etc.
Treatment of arthritis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe analgesics such as acetaminophen, tramadol, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, counter-irritants, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and corticosteroids. Additionally, an orthopaedic doctor may suggest surgical procedures such as joint repair, joint replacement and joint fusion followed by physiotherapy.
Osteoarthritis, commonly known as degenerative arthritis, is a joint disease caused by cartilage loss in a joint. It is the most common form of arthritis. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Symptoms include joint pain, joint may feel tender, joint stiffness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation when you use the joint and bone spurs.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe acetaminophen, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium and antidepressant such as duloxetine to treat chronic pain, including osteoarthritis pain. Additionally, an orthopaedic doctor may suggest other procedures including cortisone injections, hyaluronic acid injections, knee osteotomy procedure and joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty).
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder which affects more than one joint. It’s an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms include tender, warm, swollen joints, joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity, fatigue, fever and weight loss.
Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers. Additionally, an orthopaedic doctor may suggest rheumatoid arthritis surgery which involves removing the lining of the joint (Synovectomy), repairing the tendons around your joint, realign a joint and joint replacement surgery.
Joint stiffness is a symptom marked by reduced mobility or impeded mobility of a joint. Sudden joint stiffness may be due to an injury, while joint stiffness that develops and worsens over time may be due to an underlying disorder. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of joint stiffness.
Symptoms of Joint stiffness
Joint stiffness may be accompanied by symptoms, such as pain, inflammation, soreness and achiness.
Treatment of Joint stiffness
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants and antiepileptic drugs for the treatment of joint stiffness.
Gout is a severe form of arthritis which affects men more than women. But more women are getting it post menopause. An attack of gout can occur suddenly. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of gout.
Symptoms of Gout
Symptoms include intense joint pain, lingering joint discomfort, joints become swollen, tender, warm and red, decreased joint mobility.
Treatment of Gout
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and colchicine, which is a form of pain reliever that effectively reduces gout pain.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis in which some of the vertebrae in your spine fuse making your spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis
Symptoms include stiffness in the low back, upper buttock area, neck, and the remainder of the spine. The symptoms of pain and stiffness are often worse in the morning.
Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs along with TNF blockers and IL-17 inhibitors such as adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab and secukinumab.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people who suffer from psoriasis. In most cases, people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of Psoriatic arthritis
Symptoms include painful, sausage-like swelling of your fingers and toes, pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones and lower back pain.
Treatment of Psoriatic arthritis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs along with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, immunosuppressants and TNF-alpha inhibitors. Other forms of treatment include steroid injections and joint replacement surgery.
Ankylosis is a joint disease which occurs when there is an abnormal adhesion of the bones in the affected joint due to some disease or injury. It can occur in various parts of the human body. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of ankylosis.
Symptoms of Ankylosis
Symptoms include joint pain, fused joint bones, swelling of the joints, stiff joints, joint immobility and inflammation in the affected area.
Treatment of Ankylosis
An orthopaedic doctor may recommend surgery to treat the abnormal fusion of the bones and tissues. The surgery is usually followed by extensive physiotherapy.
Achilles tendinitis refers to an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon. Persistent, intense physical activity, such as running and jumping, can cause painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of achilles tendinitis.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis
Symptoms include discomfort or swelling in the back of your heel, tight calf muscles, limited range of motion when flexing the foot, skin on your heel is overly warm to the touch.
Treatment of Achilles tendinitis
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen along with physiotherapy. If this treatment doesn’t work, he may suggest surgery to repair achilles tendon.
A hammer toe is a deformity in which your toe bends downwards instead of pointing forward. It can affect any toe. There are multiple causes of hammer toe including a traumatic toe injury, arthritis, unusually high foot arch etc. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of hammer toe.
Symptoms of Hammer Toe
Symptoms include a toe that bends downward, corns or calluses, difficulty walking, inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes and claw-like toes.
Treatment of Hammer Toe
An orthopaedic doctor may prescribe over-the-counter creams, cushions, pads, or medications to treat bunions and corns associated with hammer toe. In severe cases of hammer toe, he may suggest surgery to reposition the toe, remove deformed bone and realign tendons.
Bursitis refers to an inflammation or swelling of a bursa that cushions the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow and hip. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of bursitis.
Symptoms of Bursitis
Symptoms include feel achy or stiff, hurt more when you move it or press on it, the joint looks swollen and red.
Treatment of Bursitis
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest antibiotic medicines, physiotherapy, corticosteroid injections, temporary use of a walking cane and surgical removal of the affected bursa if necessary.
Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of diseases that lead to progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. It occurs when abnormal genes interfere with the production of proteins required for healthy muscles. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of muscular dystrophy.
Symptoms of Muscular dystrophy
Symptoms include trouble walking, loss of reflexes, difficulty standing up, poor posture, bone thinning, abnormal curvature of your spine etc.
Treatment of Muscular dystrophy
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest corticosteroids such as prednisone, which can help improve muscle strength and delay the progression of certain types of muscular dystrophy and beta blockers, if muscular dystrophy damages the heart. In severe cases, an orthopaedic doctor may recommend surgery to correct a spinal curvature.
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder which is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. Its effect on functional abilities varies greatly. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of cerebral palsy.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Symptoms include variations in muscle tone, stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes, lack of muscle coordination, involuntary movements, walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait, problems with swallowing, delays in speech development, difficulty with precise motions and seizures.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections to help improve drooling associated with cerebral palsy, muscle relaxants such as diazepam, dantrolene and baclofen along with physiotherapy.
Scoliosis refers to an irregular, side to side curvature of the spine. It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10-15. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of scoliosis.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Symptoms include uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other, uneven waist and one hip higher than the other.
Treatment of Scoliosis
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, steroid injections, surgical procedures such as laminectomy, discectomy and spinal fusion.
Tennis elbow refers to a painful condition which occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by frequent movement of the wrist and arm. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of tennis elbow.
Symptoms of Tennis elbow
Symptoms include pain on the outside of your upper forearm, just below your elbow, pain when lifting or bending your arm, pain when writing or gripping small objects, pain when twisting your forearm, pain and stiffness when fully extending your arm.
Treatment of Tennis elbow
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, Botox or some form of irritant into the painful tendon along with ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX procedure) and surgery to remove damaged tissue.
Sciatica refers to any sort of pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The pain of sciatica is usually felt in the buttocks and legs. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of sciatica.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Symptoms include pain, numbness, a tingling sensation that starts from your lower back and travels down one of your legs to your foot and toes, weakness in the calf muscles.
Treatment of Sciatica
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, narcotics, tricyclic antidepressants and anti-seizure medications along with steroid injections.
Rickets refers to softening and weakening of bones in children because of insufficient vitamin D. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of rickets.
Symptoms of Rickets
Symptoms include delayed growth, pain in the spine, pelvis and legs, muscle weakness, bowed legs or knock knees, thickened wrists and ankles and breastbone projection.
Treatment of Rickets
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest vitamin D and calcium supplements. For bowlegs or spinal deformities, he may recommend surgery.
A bunion refers to a bony bump that occurs on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against the side toe, forcing the big toe to get bigger and stick out. An orthopaedic doctor is a specialist with expertise in the management of bunions.
Symptoms of Bunions
Symptoms include a swollen, bony bump on the outside edge of your foot, pain and swelling over your big toe joint, hard, callused and red skin caused by your big toe, sore skin over the top of the bunion, changes to the shape of your foot.
Treatment of Bunions
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest surgery to correct a bunion because it is the only way. Non-surgical treatments include painkillers, bunion pads, orthotics and wearing suitable footwear.
Spinal stenosis refers to a medical condition in which the spinal column narrows and starts compressing the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.
Symptoms of Spinal stenosis
Symptoms include leg or arm weakness, lower back pain while standing or walking, numbness in your legs or buttocks and balance problems.
Treatment of Spinal stenosis
An orthopaedic doctor may suggest injecting cortisone into the spinal column to reduce swelling along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery may be needed for severe cases including laminectomy, foraminotomy and spinal fusion.