Orthopedists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries to and diseases of the musculoskeletal system – the network of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves that gives the body its shape and allows us to move.
Many of the problems orthopedists treat involve the joints, places in the body where two or more bones meet. Humans have three different kinds of joints: fibrous (in the skull), cartilaginous (in the spine and ribs) and synovial (the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles and feet). This last type is what we usually refer to when we say “joint.” Ligaments connect bones to each other, and tendons connect muscles and bones.
These parts of our bodies can be damaged from a traumatic injury, disease, congenital disorder or the natural aging process. Commonly treated conditions include arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, bone fractures, sprains and strains, knee and shoulder problems, tendon and ligament tears, osteoporosis, sports injuries, and pediatric conditions such as club foot. Patients may be infants, adolescents, middle-aged or elderly.
The introduction of minimally invasive techniques has meant that many patients can be examined and treated through tiny incisions, minimizing the trauma of “open” surgery and allowing them to enjoy a faster recovery and return to regular activities.