Orthopedic Surgeon: What do they do?

orthopedic surgeon, orthopedist, orthopedics surgeonImage of What Does Orthopedic Doctors Do?


What is an Orthopedic Surgeon? 

An orthopedic surgeon is a physician (who has a medical degree D.O. or M.D) who is trained in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of disorders, injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system of the body.

So, What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Treat?

By: Genesis Villanueva PT/DPT

Many people ask what does an orthopaedic doctor do, or what does an orthopaedic surgeon treat.  Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and non surgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma , spine disorders, sports injuries, degenerative diseases , infections , tumors and congenital disorders. Non-surgical treatment may involve using medication, exercise and other rehabilitation or alternative therapies. It may be necessary to recommend surgical treatment if the patient does not respond to conservative treatment. The musculoskeletal system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. They are involved with the diagnosis and preoperative , operative and postoperative treatment. Orthopedic surgeons are trained to treat all aspects of the musculoskeletal system however many orthopedic surgeons specialize in specific areas , such as hand, shoulder, elbow, spine, hip , knee or foot and ankle. Orthopedics also may choose to specialize in fields like trauma, oncology, sports medicine, reconstructive surgery or pediatrics. Orthopedic surgeons often work closely with other health care providers and frequently serve as consultants to other physicians. Orthopedic surgeons may work in education , research or practice in a multi-specialty group or a solo practice.

Top Orthopedic Surgeons, What Do They Do?


Up until the 1890’s, orthopedics was a study limited to the correction of deformity in children. Orthopedic doctors definition is an advocated the use of exercise, manipulation and splinting to treat deformities in children. Initially there was controversy about whether orthopedics should involve surgical procedures at all. The profession progressed to surgical treatment in the early 1900's due to developments with casting and bone fixation among others. Currently, orthopedic physicians treat the following:

  • Sports Medicine Injuries
  • Orthopaedic trauma and fractures
  • Back & Neck and Injuries to the spine, facets, nerves and discs.
  • Shoulder pathologies, Carpal tunnel and hand/finger injuries
  • Orthopaedic Oncology and bone tumors
  • Bunions, plantar fasciitis and other foot and ankle injuries
  • Osteoarthritis and Arthritis
  • Knee and Hip Injuries

Procedures: What do Orthopedists Do?

Many advances in orthopedic surgery have resulted from experiences during times of war and have progressed to the advanced procedures and techniques we have today such as :

  • Arthroscopy- a procedure using a camera to visualize inside the joint
  • Fusion- a procedure using rods or internal devices in which bones are fused together
  • Internal Fixation – a procedure used to hold broken pieces of bone together with either plates, screws or pins
  • Joint replacement – a damaged joint is removed and replaced by a artificial joint either partial, total or revision
  • Osteotomy- the correction of bone deformity by cutting and re-positioning the bone
  • Soft tissue repair- repair of tendons or ligaments
  • Injections and pain management

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Training of Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons have extensive training to diagnose, treat (non-surgical or surgical) and rehabilitate issues of the musculoskeletal system. They first must complete four years of study from a college for an undergraduate degree. Then four years of study from an accredited medical school to obtain their M.D. or D.O. followed by five years of concentrated study in an orthopedic residency program at a major medical center. After residency one may choose to participate in an extra year or two of a fellowship program to obtain training in a specialty area of orthopedics. It is important the orthopedic surgeon become board certified which involves undergoing a peer review process and then demonstrating his/her expertise in orthopedics by passing both oral and written examinations given by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. In the US, specialists in hand surgery and orthopedic sports medicine may obtain a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in addition to their board primary certification by successfully completing a separate standardized examination. Sub specialty areas are : Hand surgery , Shoulder and elbow surgery, total joint reconstruction (arthroplasty) , Pediatric orthopedics, Foot and ankle surgery, Spine surgery , Musculoskeletal oncology, Surgical Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Trauma. Orthopedic surgeons spend many hours studying and attending continued medical education courses to maintain current orthopedic knowledge and skills. They complete a rigorous re-certification process every ten years.

Orthopaedic vs Orthopedic: Which is Correct?

Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute or Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute, which is the correct way to spell this term?  Actually, both versions are widely accepted as the correct way to spell the term.  The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has choosen to use the older English version of the term in our name.  But, either way you spell it, you can find board certified orthopedic doctors at JOI.  Dr. Bruce Steinberg said; "We have assembled the finest group of Orthopaedic Specialists in the North Florida Region at The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute."  Dr. Steinberg is Board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Chairman of the JOI Board of Directors.

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To learn more about the orthopaedic surgeons at JOI and the specialties they treat, please visit our doctors page at JOI.net.  If you would like to book an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons you may call JOI-2000 or click BOOK APPOINTMENT below.

If you would like to visit our medical library of trending information,  https://www.joionline.net/research-library/

To learn more about the anatomy of the human body, please go to our video section.



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