What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Do?

What is an orthopedic specialist? How can they help you?

We asked experts to shed light on these questions.

Nickolas Garbis, MD, AAOS

Nickolas Garbis

Orthopedic Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center

Orthopedic surgeons are doctors who treat diseases of bone, muscles, ligaments, and tendons

There are a variety of different treatments an orthopedic surgeon can use depending on the condition. Some examples are rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, activity modification, injections, or surgical treatment.

In severe cases of joint disease, orthopedic surgeons also perform joint replacements.

One of the most gratifying things is to be able to take somebody who is suffering and has had a reduction in the quality of life, and essentially bring them back to how they felt before they were dealing with their orthopedic ailment.

That could be something like being able to work out, play their sport, or hold their grandchild or even just to be able to walk and live independently.

Dr. Alwin Almeida

Alwin Almeida

Chief Orthopedic Surgeon and Joint Replacement Specialist at Health City Cayman Islands

Orthopedics is one of the most fascinating fields in medicine/surgery. As a specialty that requires in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and biomechanics of the human body, as orthopedic surgeons, we are often referred to as the “carpenters of the medical profession”.

The goal in the management of our orthopedic patients is to restore an active and pain-free life

The majority of our time is spent thoroughly assessing, examining and planning appropriate treatment for patients which may include surgical procedures. We believe that “Movement is Life” and orthopedics helps restore both movement and life.

Involved in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of bone, joints, ligament, tendon, and muscle disorders, we specialize in shoulder, elbow, hand, wrist, hip, knee, and spine surgery.

Patients of all ages are treated for conditions that include fractures, joint replacements, sports injuries, and spinal deformities.

Our team also develops strategies that prevent surgery, as well as post-surgical rehabilitation approaches that enable proper healing, to help prevent future injuries.

The physiotherapy program assesses and evaluates the specific condition of each patient in order to develop a personalized rehab program.

Physiotherapists at Health City Cayman Islands employ the most appropriate modalities and exercises which allow patients to restore normal function and resume an active lifestyle.

We participate in annual training or continuing education sessions

As orthopedic specialists, we participate in annual training or continuing education sessions in order to provide the most up-to-date and affordable treatment modalities.

For instance, robotic-assisted surgery, available at Health City Cayman Islands since 2016, guides the surgeon to more precise bone cuts and ligament balancing for the best results.

This minimally invasive procedure reduces surgical errors and allows for precise placement of implants and alignment and hence, a superior result, using computer-guided techniques.

I recently had the privilege to receive training overseas with French expert Professor Pascal Boileau in the latest techniques for Arthroscopic Latarjet surgery of the shoulder.

This was critically important since as many as 90 percent of the body’s dislocations happen in the shoulder which is the most unstable joint in the body. This technique, which is also minimally invasive, results in a quicker return to recovery compared to conventional surgical techniques.

We also embrace the comprehensive monitoring of infection control practices that have helped to directly lower costs for our patients and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Challenges of Being an Orthopedic Doctor?

Being an orthopedic doctor can be both rewarding and challenging. Some of the challenges are:

Long, demanding hours: Orthopedic doctors often work long hours, including weekends and holidays. They’re also on call 24/7 for emergencies. This can make it challenging to maintain a work-life balance and may lead to burnout.

High-stress levels: Orthopedic surgeons often work under high-stress levels, especially during surgeries. The pressure to ensure the procedure goes smoothly and the patient’s health isn’t compromised can be quite intense.

On-call responsibilities: Orthopedic doctors are often on-call, so they must be available for emergencies at all hours of the day and night. This can be a significant source of stress and can disrupt personal plans and schedules.

Keeping up with advancements in orthopedic medicine: Orthopedic medicine is an ever-evolving field, and orthopedic surgeons must keep up with the latest advances in diagnosis, treatment, and technology. It can be a challenge, especially with a busy schedule.

Manage a high volume of patients: Orthopedic physicians deal with a large number of patients every day. This can make it challenging to give each patient the time and attention they need and may lead to burnout.

Dealing with difficult or uncooperative patients: Orthopedic physicians may also deal with patients who are uncooperative or dissatisfied with their treatment. Dealing with these patients can be challenging and requires excellent communication skills and empathy.

What Is the Working Environment of an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic doctors typically work in a medical office or hospital setting. They may also work in outpatient clinics or surgery centers.

The work environment of orthopedic surgeons can be physically and emotionally demanding as they work with patients in pain or injured.

Some aspects of the work environment for orthopedic surgeons are:

• They spend a lot of time on their feet, performing surgeries and exams
• Dealing with patients and their families, often during stressful or emotional moments
• Working with a team of healthcare providers, such as nurses, physical therapists, and aides
• Keeping up to date with the latest developments in orthopedic medicine
• Respond to emergencies and be on call outside of regular working hours

How Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Work With Other Healthcare Providers?

Orthopedic physicians work closely with various healthcare providers to provide comprehensive care to their patients. These may include:

Physical therapists: Physical therapists work with orthopedic surgeons to develop rehabilitation plans for patients recovering from injury or surgery.

Nurses: Nurses assist orthopedic surgeons with patient care, including pre-and post-operative care.

Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiologists provide anesthesia for surgeries performed by orthopedic surgeons.

Primary care physicians: Primary care physicians may refer patients to orthopedists for specialized care.

Radiologists: Radiologists provide imaging services such as X-rays and MRIs to help orthopedists diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions.

What Is the Role of an Orthopedic Doctor in Sports Medicine?

Orthopedic physicians play a significant role in sports medicine. They help athletes recover from injuries and return to their sport as soon as possible.

Orthopedic doctors also help prevent injuries by working with athletes on their technique, strength, and flexibility.

Specific roles of orthopedic surgeons in sports medicine include:

• Diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures
• Providing rehabilitation and physical therapy plans to help athletes recover from injuries
• Performing surgery, if necessary, to repair injury-related damage
• Provide advice and guidance for injury prevention and performance improvement
• Collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as athletic trainers and physical therapists, to provide comprehensive care for athletes

What Is the Importance of Physical Therapy in Orthopedic Medicine?

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in treating musculoskeletal conditions. Physical therapists work with orthopedic surgeons to develop rehabilitation plans for patients recovering from injury or surgery.

They also help patients improve their:

• flexibility
• range of motion

Physical therapy is essential because it:

• helps patients regain function
• relieve pain so they can return to daily activities as soon as possible

What Are the Career Opportunities for Orthopedic Surgeons?

Orthopedic physicians have many career options in clinical settings and related industries. Some common career paths for orthopedic surgeons include:

Private practice: If you’re interested in working one-on-one with patients, you may consider starting your own solo or group practice. In this setting, you can set your own hours, build a patient base, and focus on each patient’s specific needs and goals.

Practice in a Hospital: Another option is to work as part of a hospital’s medical staff, treating patients hospitalized for orthopedic injuries or conditions. You’ll work closely with a team of medical professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists, and other physicians, to provide the best possible care to your patients.

Academic medicine: If you’re passionate about patient care and education, consider a career in academic medicine. In this role, you’ll be able to teach and conduct research at a university or academic medical center, sharing your knowledge and experience with the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Industry: If you want to use your medical expertise to advance the field of orthopedics, you may consider working for a medical device or pharmaceutical company. There, you’ll work to develop and test new medical technologies and treatments, helping to provide innovative solutions to patients in need.

Sports medicine: If you’re an avid sports fan, you might be interested in a career in sports medicine. In this role, you’ll work with athletes and sports teams, providing medical care and support to help them stay healthy and perform their best.

Military medicine: If you want to serve your country, you might consider a career in military medicine. In this role, you’ll provide medical care to service members, work in a challenging and rewarding environment, and make a difference in the lives of those who serve.

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