Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

What is it?

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Physicians specializing in orthopedics not only treat and diagnose conditions but also help to prevent new injuries or rehabilitate old ones.  Orthopedic teams can be found in hospitals or in private practice locations.  Some of the most common conditions treated include sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, congenital disorders, and musculoskeletal trauma.

What are the subspecialties? 

There are many subspecialties within orthopedics.  Some of these include the following; hand surgery, shoulder and elbow surgery, foot and ankle surgery, back  and spine surgery, total joint reconstruction, pediatric orthopedics, musculoskeletal oncology, sports medicine, and orthopedic trauma.

What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?

The most common orthopedic ailments include fractures, joint pains, tennis elbow, arthritis, and osteoporosis.  People who suffer from osteoporosis typically do not realize they have the condition until they break a bone.  osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle.  This can cause simple daily tasks, such as walking or running, to result in a fracture.  Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can assist in strengthening bone.

What are the commonly associated medical procedures?

Orthopedic medicine handles and treats a diverse set of diseases and problems involving bones, joints, and muscles. Frequently performed bone debridement, open reduction and internal fixations, rotator cuff repairs, and ACL reconstructions.  An ACL repair is a common procedure in athletes with sports related injuries.  The ACL, Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is located in the knee.  This ligament helps to keep your tibia in place.  A tear in this ligament will result in instability in the knee as well as pain and swelling.  This injury typically requires surgery and physical therapy  to repair structural damage and to regain strength and mobility.

Are there any preventative measures I can take?

Maintaining a healthy diet is  important for overall health.  Foods enriched with Vitamin D and Calcium are recommended to build strong bones.  Most people do not realize that without proper exercise and diet, muscles begin to deteriorate.  Decreased muscle mass results in more strain  on the bones to support body weight. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight ensures that the bones and muscles can work together with an equal balance.

What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?

One misconception about bone health is that a broken bone is no big deal, and does not require immediate medical attention.  Broken bones can lead to other health problems if not treated or healed properly.  Some people do not experience other health-related problems with broken bones, but depending on the age of the person and severity of the break, they can be fatal  if left untreated or improperly managed.

Another misconception is that milk depletes calcium levels in bones.  The myth associated with this is that the more milk you consume, the higher a person’s body pH is.  This, in turn, would lead to the excretion of more calcium in the urine.  Some believe that this calcium is coming from the bones. However, this is not true.  The only time in which a person’s body will pull from the bones’ calcium reserve is during severe malnutrition and starvation.  If the body senses that its pH level is too high, it targets the excess calcium from consumed food and excretes that calcium through urine.  The digestive and urinary systems handle the homeostatic relationship between the diet and body’s pH.


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