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What you need to know about orthopaedic surgeons

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Have you ever experienced joint pain? Maybe you’ve been experiencing symptoms of arthritis? 

If you’ve been to the GP to discuss your aches and pains, it’s possible you’ve been referred to orthopaedics. But what is orthopaedics and what does a skilled surgeon in this field do? To find out more about the medical professionals who will be looking after you, read on. 

What is orthopaedics?

Every year, 20% of people in the UK see a doctor about a musculoskeletal concern. This means that over 13 million are experiencing joint or bone pain.

Orthopaedics focuses on conditions that affect your musculoskeletal system. This means that they focus on anything that makes your body move. So, your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, and nerves are all assessed and treated by orthopaedic specialists.

If you’ve been referred to the orthopaedic department, you will have either experienced an injury or you’re suffering from chronic pain. The specialist team will take into account how the trauma has taken place and know how to care for you. 

How does an orthopaedic surgeon treat patients?

First, orthopaedic surgeons will diagnose you. You might have already had a diagnosis from your GP, but once you’ve been referred, the orthopaedics will be able to see exactly where your pain is. 

From there, they can decide the best course of treatment. You may need surgery, but any treatment that’s given will be discussed with you so that you know exactly what’s happening at every stage.

They’ll also decide on ongoing treatment you need, such as physiotherapy. This is designed to build your strength after any procedures or surgery. To prevent any further damage, you’ll also be given guidance to look after. 

What procedures do orthopaedic surgeons do?

As with other medical fields, orthopaedic surgeons specialise in a specific area of treatment. Some focus on spinal injuries and conditions, while others are skilled in knee replacement. Other areas of specialism include: 

  • Hands
  • Shoulders and elbows
  • Feet and ankles
  • Sports-related musculoskeletal injuries 
  • Trauma surgery

Some of the most common procedures are carried out on those with arthritis, back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Bone cancer also falls under the orthopaedics specialism. 

What’s the difference between orthopaedics and other doctors? 

There is some crossover between orthopaedics and other types of medical professional. One of the most common questions is when do you visit a chiropractor and when do you need to see an orthopaedic surgeon for your neck pain? 

Chiropractors will relieve you of any pain in your neck, shoulders or back, but if you have a chronic condition that’s likely to return such as osteoarthritis, you’ll need to see an orthopaedic doctor – and often, chiropractors will refer you if it’s clear you have a condition that might require an intervention like surgery. 

If you think your pain is severe or you think you need the services of a surgeon, speak to your GP as soon as possible so that you can be referred. 

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Christopher Stern
Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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