Orthopedic Questions and Answers


What is an orthopedic surgeon?

An orthopedic surgeon is a specialist dealing with bones, ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles. You will most commonly see an orthopedic surgeon after seeing your primary care doctor and receiving a referral.

What do orthopedic surgeons do?

Your orthopedic surgeon will diagnose any orthopedic issue, prescribe and perform treatments, and help you with rehabilitation. They may also help develop a long-term strategy to treat your injury, disorder, or illness related to the bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or joints.

Orthopedic surgeons provide various procedures, including surgery for knees, hips, hands, the neck, ankles, and the spine. Typically, your orthopedic surgeon will attempt to treat your issue in the least intrusive and most holistic way possible, but surgery could be necessary.

What’s orthopedic surgery?

A surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon that deals with treating an issue or injury with bones, joints, muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

What all do orthopedic doctors diagnose?

An orthopedic doctor will diagnose any issue or injury affecting the musculoskeletal system of the human body. This will include:

  • bone cancer
  • joint or back pain
  • arthritis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • bone fractures
  • muscle strains
  • tendon and ligament injuries
  • ACL tears
  • limb abnormalities

What all do orthopedic doctors treat?

When you are referred to an orthopedic doctor, you likely have an issue with your bones, ligaments, tendons, or joints. Orthopedic doctors treat a variety of injuries and conditions, including:

  • fractures
  • strains
  • sprains
  • tendonitis
  • clubfoot
  • bowlegs
  • bone cancers
  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • and more

Do orthopedic surgeons work in hospitals?

Orthopedic surgeons may work in a hospital, but many work in private practice.

What is a physician’s assistant?

A physician’s assistant, often referred to as a PA, is a professional in the healthcare industry working with doctors. PAs can give medical treatment, and their duties will depend on the state laws and the supervising doctor.

When might I see a physician’s assistant?

It is common to see a physician’s assistant when your injury or issue is not an emergency. They can do patient exams, diagnose illness, write prescriptions, and even assist with surgery.

What to expect in physical therapy?

Your physical therapy will begin with an evaluation to assess your overall mobility and strength. Once the evaluation is done, your physical therapist will work with your physician to create a plan to increase strength and mobility. This plan may involve one-on-one appointments where you may perform specific exercises and stretches at a gym-like facility.

You will likely receive a set of simple exercises to do at home, as well. As a part of physical therapy, you can expect a customized plan including one or more of the activities listed below:

  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Massage
  • Exercise to help with daily activities
  • Muscle retraining
  • Gait training
  • Pain management strategies
  • Strength and flexibility exercise

What should I bring to my appointment?

You will need a few things for your first appointment, including:

  • Photo ID
  • Your Insurance Card
  • A form of Payment
  • Referral information
  • Any relevant imaging

It is also a good idea to wear comfortable clothing as you might do some exercises at your first physical therapy appointment.

What do I need to know for surgery?

When you know you have an upcoming surgery, your physician will likely give you instructions to follow. These may include things like not smoking, eating good meals to prepare for surgery, and exercising. On the day of your surgery, you may be given instructions to stop eating at a specific time and about what you should bring for surgery. Your physician will also provide instructions for what to do after surgery, which may include specific things to do or to avoid, depending on the surgery.

What are the most common orthopedic surgeries?

The most common type of orthopedic surgery is ACL reconstruction surgery. Knee surgeries are relatively common, including knee replacement surgeries. Other common orthopedic surgeries include:

  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Knee arthroscopy
  • Hip replacement surgery
  • Spinal surgeries
  • Trigger finger release
  • Ankle repair

What kind of training does an orthopedic surgeon have?

An orthopedic surgeon will have completed all of the following training:

  • Four-year undergraduate education
  • Passing of the MCAT
  • Four-year medical school education
  • Passing of the USMLE
  • Five years of residency training at a major medical center
  • An optional year of orthopedic subspecialty training
  • Two years of practice in the chosen field
  • Passing a final exam to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery