What Does An Orthopedic Doctor Do?

What Does An Orthopedic Doctor Do?

Orthopedic doctors specialize in the management of pain related to the musculoskeletal system. They also specialize in joint pain, problems with range of motion and in the treatment and prevention of injuries, such as overuse injuries. Orthopedic doctors also help with chronic musculoskeletal conditions and employ a wide variety of clinical interventions to take care of your musculoskeletal system. In this piece, we will answer the question: what does an orthopedic doctor do?

Read on to learn about what orthopedic doctors do, when you would need to see an orthopedic doctor, what to expect from a visit to the orthopedic doctor, and how to find one.


What does an Orthopedic Doctor Do?

Orthopedic doctors sometimes referred to as orthopedic surgeons or orthopedic physicians are medical professionals that specialize in conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic doctors are able to treat trauma and injuries that are sustained to your musculoskeletal system, as well as congenital diseases, infections, injuries from sports, degenerative illnesses, and other complaints relating to your joints and spine, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Orthopedic doctors are also trained in surgical treatments, such as joint replacements, release surgery, and fusion surgery, among others. Orthopedic doctors can also be trained specialists in cancer of the bones, a practice is known as orthopedic oncology.

Most commonly, pain is the factor that pushes many people to see orthopedic doctors. Orthopedic doctors understand the musculoskeletal system and joints extremely well and are thus able to aid in treating the pain associated with the back, elbows, feet, hands, knees, neck, shoulders, and wrists.

Orthopedic doctors are also able to assist with improving the range of motion between joints and other components of the musculoskeletal system and help in the treatment and prevention of injuries such as repetitive strain injuries, ranging up to sports injuries and traumas.

The treatment that orthopedic doctors offer is not just limited to surgical interventions, but also involves rehabilitation and assisting with the regaining of movement, and the maintenance of flexibility.


When would I need to see an Orthopedic Doctor?

Experiencing pain and discomfort is one of the primary reasons that people seek out the advice and help of an orthopedic doctor. Below we will go into the five main signs that you may need to seek the advice or help of an orthopedic doctor.


  • You have trouble accomplishing everyday activities

    Chronic pain is defined as pain and discomfort that is persistent for twelve weeks or longer. Chronic pain can be a sign of a degenerative disease, or of an injury to a joint, bone, nerve, tendon, ligament, or other parts of the musculoskeletal system.

  • Your range of motion is becoming limited

    A limit in your range of motion usually signifies a problem with a joint but can be caused by a litany of other stressors, including physical damage such as a sports injury or a repetitive strain or overuse injury. Orthopedic doctors can ascertain what is the cause of your limit in the range of motion and can assist in a treatment plan that may involve rehabilitation and exercises to regain your range of motion without causing any pain.

  • Experiencing instability when walking or standing

    Instability when walking or standing presents a significant risk of falling, which can cause serious injury. If you are experiencing instability when walking or standing, an orthopedic doctor will aim to figure out the cause of the instability and provide a corresponding treatment. The instability could be caused by anything from an undiagnosed injury to joint instability. An orthopedic doctor will determine the cause of your instability and will devise a treatment method to rectify it.

  • You have suffered an injury that has not improved in the last 48 hours

    If you have suffered an injury such as a sprain, with swelling and pain that has not subsided within 48 hours, it is recommended to see an orthopedic doctor. Injuries such as fractures, tears to ligaments or tendons, or muscle strains can be treated by an orthopedic doctor, most commonly with surgical interventions.

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What to expect when seeing the Orthopedic Doctor?

A visit to the orthopedic physician involves methods to assess where your pain originates, methods to assess its cause, and a discussion of treatment options.

During your consultation, the physician will ask about where and how severe your pain is, as well as ask you to describe how the pain came about. This will help them ascertain what the possible causes could be. Learning about the severity of the pain you experience also helps the physician understand how your pain is affecting your daily activities.

The physician may also ask about your medical history and try to get a feel for what your physical activity level is, all to establish where you need to be in your treatment and recovery.

Depending on what is causing the pain, the orthopedic doctor may perform a number of tests to determine the extent of your injury and the range of motion that you have. Additional tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds can also be used to confirm what type of injury you have, particularly if a break or fracture is involved.

Once a diagnosis is established, the physician can begin to map out a treatment plan that may include surgical intervention, rehabilitation, and restoration of range of motion.


How to become an Orthopedic Doctor?

Becoming an orthopedic doctor requires several years of specialized training, which can take up to fourteen years. The following needs to be completed:

  • An undergraduate degree at a college or university
  • Four years of medical school
  • An orthopedics-focused residency
  • A fellowship to specialize in one of the fields of orthopedics such as the spine, hips and knees, hands, shoulders and elbows, feet and ankles, sports medicine, and trauma surgery

How can Orthopedic Physician Associates help?

Orthopedic Physician Associates is the Pacific Northwest’s top provider of orthopedic and musculoskeletal services and strives to provide an easy way to request an appointment for orthopedic services. Request an appointment with an orthopedic professional today to assess your needs and help you live a pain-free life. Visit our blog to access patient resources and learn what does an orthopedic doctor do. 

Our Orthopedic Doctors Serve you in the following Locations:

Seattle | Bellevue | Kirkland | Redmond | Renton | Shoreline | Lynnwood | Burien | Issaquah | Poulsbo | West Seattle

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