Common Reasons for Visiting an Orthopedic Doctor

Orthopedic visit

Do you have continued knee or back pain on a daily basis? Do you feel sore or stiff after sleeping or being sedentary for a long time? Do you have an injury that just doesn’t seem to be healing? These are some common reasons people visit an orthopedic specialist. But what are some others? Let’s go over some of the common reasons people see orthopedic doctors.

Orthopedic doctors can help reduce pain

Pain is one of the most common reasons people visit orthopedic doctors. These doctors specialize in the entire musculoskeletal system, understanding the various types of joints and how they work. This includes muscles, nerves, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other connective tissue. There are many musculoskeletal conditions and injuries that can cause pain, and often, orthopedic specialists can help reduce or eliminate pain.

If you have pain, consider making an appointment. Orthopedic doctors diagnose and treat many types of pain all over the body, including:

Whether your pain is dull or sharp, chronic or acute, an orthopedic doctor may be able to help.

Orthopedic doctors can help improve range of motion

Pain, swelling, injury, and joint stiffness can all lead to limited range of motion. And when your range of motion is limited, it can be difficult or painful to perform everyday tasks such as carrying things, taking care of yourself and even walking. Orthopedic specialists can work with you to increase range of motion and help you get back to normal. Increasing range of motion can often be accomplished through physical therapy, non-surgical treatment, and sometimes surgery.

Orthopedic doctors can make it easier to perform everyday tasks

Many people are willing to just tough it out, so to speak, and live with pain, limited range of motion, stiffness, and other symptoms that are annoying but not necessarily getting in the way of their lives. But when it becomes difficult to perform everyday tasks, like reaching to put something in a cabinet, bending over to pick something up from the floor, or even just getting out of bed or going for a walk, it’s time to see a doctor. Orthopedic specialists can talk with you to diagnose the cause of your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle.

Orthopedic doctors can treat injuries and may be able to help prevent injuries

Broken bones, compression fractures, stress fractures, dislocations, muscle injury, and tendon tears or ruptures are common reasons people visit orthopedic doctors. Athletes will often work with orthopedists to help prevent future injury and optimize performance.

For example, some athletes are at risk for shoulder dislocation. And once they’ve experienced one dislocation, they’re at higher risk for future dislocations. Therapy may be able to help prevent future dislocations.

Orthopedic surgeons can repair broken bones and injuries to muscles and tendons, among other things and help improve function and reduce or eliminate pain. They can also work in conjunction with other specialists such as therapists, rehabilitation doctors and pain management specialists to optimize treatment. This will lead to improved function and mobility, reduced pain, and improved quality of life.

Some of the injuries that can be addressed with physical therapy, non-surgical treatments and sometimes surgery include:

  • fractures, such as broken hip, broken wrist, kneecap, compression fracture of the vertebrae and others
  • tendon injuries such as Achilles tendon rupture or ACL rupture
  • meniscus tear
  • ankle sprain
  • plantar fasciitis
  • labral tear  of the shoulder or the hip
  • rotator cuff tear which is a common cause of shoulder pain
  • tennis elbow
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • stress fracture

No matter what your injury involves, there’s a good chance an orthopedic specialist can help.

Orthopedic doctors treat musculoskeletal conditions

Orthopedic doctors see people with a variety of conditions that affect the muscles, nerves, bones, joints, and connective tissues. Conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, and osteoporosis can cause pain and dysfunction that can be truly debilitating. Orthopedic conditions are often chronic, meaning they tend to last months or even years, and they are often progressive, which means they will get worse over time – especially without treatment. Some of these conditions are related to age, some are genetic, and some are caused by overuse of the affected area.

Some orthopedic conditions, like arthritis, can occur in many parts of the body. Arthritis involves inflammation of the joints that causes pain and dysfunction, and it can be experienced in any joint.

The five main categories of orthopedic conditions are:

  • arthritis (including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • bursitis
  • osteoporosis
  • tumors
  • pain (such as knee pain, hip pain, joint pain, and muscle pain)

Fortunately, there are effective treatments for most chronic orthopedic conditions. Your treatment plan will depend on factors like the severity of your condition and the degree to which it’s affecting your activities; your age; your overall health; and your lifestyle. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, surgery, medication, in-office procedures, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), or a combination of those options.

Orthopedic doctors can help you determine whether you need surgery

There are some common misconceptions about orthopedic surgery that we’d like to address. For example, some people may shy away from surgery, thinking that treatment won’t help, and they should just handle the pain and dysfunction on their own. Others think their pain is a normal part of aging they must simply accept, and they believe that surgery should be reserved for the obvious injuries. There’s also a common misconception that surgeons will always recommend surgery – even if it’s not necessary.

At Beaumont, we are dedicated to providing every patient with the right treatment at the right time. Surgery is recommended only when nonsurgical treatment measures have failed to provide relief or in circumstance when nonsurgical options are unlikely to be successful. Care is specific to each patient and our goal is always to improve our patients’ quality of life. 

Orthopedic doctors can perform surgical and non-surgical procedures

Orthopedic specialists can perform both surgical and non-surgical procedures to help treat your injury or condition. Some of those procedures are:

Surgical procedures

  • joint replacement surgery
  • joint revision surgery
  • arthroscopy
  • spinal surgery to relieve pressure off nerves
  • disc replacement surgery and spinal fusion surgery
  • soft tissue repair, such as procedures to repair torn or ruptured tendons or ligaments
  • bone fracture repair
  • osteotomy to correct bone deformity
  • debridement or removal or damaged tissue or bone
  • excision or removal of bone and soft tissue tumors

Non-surgical procedures

  • fluid drainage, otherwise known as aspiration
  • injections, such as:
    • injecting steroids into the bursa
    • ultrasound-guided steroid injections in the knee
    • facet joint injection
    • cervical epidural injection
    • lumbar epidural steroid injection
  • joint manipulation
  • bracing or casting
  • viscosupplementation to treat arthritis
  • extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)
  • lumbar sympathetic block

Orthopedic doctors can provide the opinion of a specialist

Another reason people see orthopedic doctors is to get the opinion – or a second opinion – of a specialist. It’s never a bad idea to go to the experts who see conditions or injuries like yours every day. If you have or think you may have a chronic orthopedic condition or you are suffering from an injury to your muscles, bones, joints, or connective tissue, make an appointment to see a doctor. It’s always, as they say, better to be safe than sorry. You don’t have to just live with pain and dysfunction. In fact, there’s a good chance treatment could greatly improve your symptoms.

When should you call an orthopedic doctor

We’ve covered some common reasons people see an orthopedic doctor, and before we sign off, we’d like to leave you with five signs and symptoms you should not ignore. If you are experiencing any of the following, please make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to be evaluated.

  • pain, stiffness, or discomfort that makes daily activities difficult
  • chronic pain (pain that has lasted longer than 12 weeks)
  • decreased range of motion
  • instability while walking or standing
  • progressive weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • soft tissue injury that hasn’t improved after a few days
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