Time to consult a surgeon
Most people see an orthopedic surgeon for a sudden injury, such as a sports or car accident. With these injuries, there is evident damage to a joint, muscle, or bone that needs surgical intervention. Orthopedic surgeons also commonly treat fractures and dislocations. Another reason to schedule a consultation with a surgeon is when long-term joint pain affects quality of life. In most cases, the pain has been present for 3 months or more and has not responded to pain medication, physical therapy (PT), massage, or other conservative means. During the appointment, the surgeon can confirm if there is an underlying condition and recommend treatment. Orthopedic surgeons are also commonly consulted by people over the age of 60 for mobility issues and age-related conditions.
Making a diagnosis
The initial consultation with an orthopedic surgeon typically lasts about 1 hour. The doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history and symptoms and perform a physical examination to assess the condition. Diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds, may also be ordered. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will explain the treatment options available to the patient. Treatment options may include prescription medications, physical therapy, surgery, or a combined approach. Thanks to advancements in medicine, orthopedic surgery is often minimally invasive, requiring small incisions to access and repair the joint.
A range of expertise
Orthopedic surgeons can perform a wide range of procedures to treat injuries and conditions of the musculoskeletal system. These include arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgeries, partial knee replacements, and total hip replacements. Surgeons can also repair dislocated shoulders and ligament damage in the knee and elbow. Orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing osteoporosis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and other conditions in the musculoskeletal system.
Do you need surgery?
A patient does not necessarily need surgery if a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon occurs. Like other physicians, an orthopedic surgeon will recommend non-surgical treatments first since these are less invasive than surgery. However, surgery may be necessary if the patient has already tried and failed these techniques. Patients should take the advice of the doctor to make the best decision.