What Is An Orthopedic Surgeon?



What is an Orthopedic Surgeon? 

The definition of orthopedic surgeon is a physician (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. Ortho is an accepted abbreviation for an Orthopedic Doctor. 

What does an orthopedic doctor do? JOI is top Orthopedic Surgeons in North FloridaWhat is a Orthopedic Surgeon


What Does an Orthopaedic Doctor Treat?

The quick answer is that orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and non surgical means to treat

  • musculoskeletal trauma
  • spine disorders
  • sports injuries
  • degenerative diseases
  • infections
  • tumors 
  • 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 
  • 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 
  • foot and ankle. 

Orthopedic doctors 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.

Other Names for Orthopedic Surgeon

There are several terms that all refer to an Orthopedic doctor.  They include:

  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Orthopedic Specialitst
  • Orthopaedic Surgeonn
  • Orthopedist
  • Orthopod
  • Orthopedic Doctor
  • Ortho Doctor
  • Ortho Specialist
  • Orthopedic Physician

What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Do?

Quick Answer, Up until the 1890’s, orthopedics was a study limited to the correction of deformity in children. Orthopedic doctors 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:

Orthopedic surgeons treat injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.  This includes bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Woman with an orthopedic injury while running

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

What do Orthopedists Do?

Many advances in orthopaedic surgery have resulted from experiences during times of war and have progressed to the advanced procedures and techniques we have today. 

What do Orthopedists Do?  Here is the answer:

  • 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.

Animated image of the joints of the body with highlighted joints bones and joints of the body


What is the Difference Between an Orthopedic Doctor and an Orthopedic Surgeon?

The quick answer is that they are the same thing in most cases.  However, there are physicians who specialize in sports medicine and treat the whole athlete but they do not perform orthopedic surgery.  This is different than an orthopedic surgeon.  JOI has an Internal Medicine Physician that specializes in sports medicine. Dr Michael Yorio is the Team Internist for the Jacksonville Jaguars and treats sports injuries and concussions at the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.

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

Orthopedic surgeons spend many hours studying and attending continued medical education courses to maintain current orthopedic knowledge and skills. They complete a rigorous recertification 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 chosen 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. 

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

Please read these related articles: 

Orthopedic Specialist in Jacksonville, FL

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute is proud to be the premier orthopedic medical group in Northeast Florida. JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. 

 Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. To make a JOI Rehab Physical Therapy appointment, please call 904-858-7045. 

 By: Genesis Villanueva PT/DPT

You can now schedule ONLINE to schedule a patient appointment with our Orthopedic Physicians. 

Call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below



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