Orthopedics is one of the sections of clinical medicine and surgery. Orthopedists study the mechanisms of development of deformations and functional disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Doctors also work with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malformations, congenital abnormalities, the effects of mechanical injuries or diseases that have affected the skeleton. What you need to know about orthopedists, how often you need to visit a doctor, how is the diagnosis and treatment?
General characteristics of the direction
Orthopedics traditionally performs in conjunction with traumatology. Traumatology is a branch of clinical medicine that studies damage to the musculoskeletal system (joints, ligaments, bones, tendons). An integral part of orthopedics and traumatology is prosthetics.
Discipline is based on the development and application of prostheses / orthoses. A prosthesis is an artificial substitute for damaged parts of the body of a living organism. An orthosis is an external medical device that is used to change the functional or structural characteristics of the skeleton / neuromuscular system. Orthoses include corsets, bandage, special insoles or orthopedic shoes supporting apparatuses.
Orthopedics is also considered an important part of sports medicine. This is a science that studies the changes in the human body during / after active physical activity. Both positive and negative results are evaluated. Why does the orthopedist have knowledge about physical education and sports? The practitioner conducts and prescribes exercise therapy, massage or physiotherapy. Using medical manipulations, without having full knowledge of them, is considered unacceptable.
In conjunction with traumatology and orthopedics, there are other narrowly specialized areas - spinal surgery, biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system, joint replacement, arthroscopic surgery, and others. In some countries (for example, in the post-Soviet space), the combination of traumatology and orthopedics is an independent clinical discipline.
What is the responsibility of a specialist
An orthopedist is a specialist with a higher medical education who has completed postgraduate studies (internship / residency) and received a narrow profile specialization. In addition to the traditional course of treatment of diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, the specialist focuses on field surgery, prosthetics, sports traumatology, rehabilitation, clinical biomechanics and bone pathologies.
The main goal of the doctor is the prevention and treatment of orthopedic diseases and the consequences of mechanical injuries on an outpatient basis. Diagnosis, therapy and prevention is carried out in specialized medical institutions - trauma departments of the hospital, rehabilitation centers, orthopedic sanatoriums and so on.
An incomplete list of diseases that the orthopedist deals with:
- curvature of the feet, clubfoot, or flat feet;
- congenital pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (for example, hip dysplasia);
- arthrosis, bursitis, arthritis;
- osteochondrosis (dystrophic disturbance in the articular cartilage);
- mechanical damage, dislocations, fractures and other injuries;
- Ewing's sarcoma (malignant tumor of the bone skeleton).
What you need to know about pediatric orthopedics
Children's orthopedists are singled out in a separate category. The direction itself is focused on the prevention and treatment of bone skeleton defects. Orthopedic consultation is necessary not only for schoolchildren, but also for preschool children. The doctor will diagnose the baby’s musculoskeletal system, identify its strengths / weaknesses, determine the child’s readiness for future loads (school / university) and tell parents how to avoid many ailments.
An emergency visit to a specialist is indicated in such cases:
- incorrect position of the hip of the newborn (congenital dislocation);
- severity of gait, rapid fatigue of the baby after several steps or minutes of walking;
- constant tilt of the head to the shoulder;
- complaints of the child about episodic pain in the legs / back / neck / arms;
Keep track of your own child and analyze the pace of his development. Untimely access to a doctor is fraught with complications, prolonged therapy and a decrease in the quality of life of the baby.
When to seek help
A visit to an orthopedist should be a regular procedure. Undergo a general physical examination 1-2 times a year to control your own body and in time to prevent ailments. Bone disorders can develop over the years, without causing much discomfort or pain to the patient. That is why frequent diagnosis is the key to the health of the musculoskeletal system.
An unscheduled orthopedic consultation may be needed unexpectedly. Did you or your child get injured while playing sports, feel discomfort in your limbs, for no reason, or just stay in the cold a little longer? See your orthopedic consultant to rule out serious illnesses or to treat them right away.
Sprains, bruises, animal bites, deformation of the extremities / spine / chest / functionality of small or large joints should also encourage a person to urgent diagnosis.
The main rule is that you can’t tolerate pain. Cracking in the joints, numbness or swelling of the hands, soreness of movement, occasional aching pains throughout the body, rapid fatigue or impaired posture significantly affect the quality of human life. Protect your own comfort, do not wait until the pain passes on its own or develops into a chronic one - visit the orthopedist.
People who engage in active sports, like extreme rest or work in debilitating conditions (for example, at work), should visit the orthopedist more often, since they are at risk.
Diagnostic methods and therapy
At the first consultation, the orthopedist listens to the patient’s complaints, conducts a visual examination, determines the range of motion, and prescribes the necessary examination. Most often this is an X-ray, on the basis of which the diagnosis is confirmed or refuted. In some cases, you will need magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography to get a clearer and better picture. In addition to diagnostic tests, an orthopedist issues a referral for a general analysis of urine and blood.
Based on the results obtained, a therapeutic course is being developed. It is selected individually for each patient. Some will need surgical intervention, others will need a course of antibiotics or massage, and others will need a lifestyle adjustment. The main thing - do not self-medicate, but strictly follow the doctor's recommendations.