Orthopaedics is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and skin. These elements make up the musculoskeletal system. The physicians who specialize in this area are called orthopaedic surgeons or orthopaedic surgeons.
Orthopaedic surgeons are involved in all aspects of heath care pertaining to the musculoskeletal system. They use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery.
Typically, as much as 50 percent of the orthopaedic surgeon's practice is devoted to no surgical or medical management of injuries or disease and 50 percent to surgical management. Surgery may be needed to restore function lost as a result of injury or disease of bones, joint, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or skin.
The orthopaedic surgeon also works closely with other health care professionals and often serves as a consultant to other physicians. Orthopaedic surgeons play an important role in the organization and delivery of emergency care. They are members of the teams that manage complex, multi-system trauma.
Orthopaedics is a specialty of immense breadth and variety. Orthopaedic surgeons treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including
Great advances have occurred in the surgical management of degenerative joint disease. For example,
Orthopaedic surgeons can replace a diseased joint with a prosthetic device (total joint replacement).
The Greek roots of orthopaedics are ortho (straight) and pais (child). Much of the early work in orthopaedics involved treating children who had spine or limb deformities. Orthopaedic surgeons continue to treat children, as well as diseases prevalent in the elderly.
Some orthopaedic surgeons confine their practice to specific areas of the musculoskeletal system, such as the spine, hip, foot, or hand. Many generalists have a special interest in a specific area, but still treat most injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
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