Orthopaedics is an area of medicine devoted to treating disorders of the skeletal and joint systems. This field includes a wide range of treatments, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation, sport injury prevention, and management, and clinical orthopaedics. Orthopaedics also includes the field of geriatric care, which uses techniques and treatments used in orthopaedic care for the elderly.
Orthopaedics is part of the large field of general surgery. But in recent years orthopaedics has emerged as a specialty, its own discipline. In the United States, orthopaedics is now the fourth most popular specialty, above cardiologists, plastic surgeons, and podiatrists. In the United Kingdom, orthopaedics is now its own distinct specialty.
An orthopaedic specialist provides many services to patients. One of these is spinal manipulation. Spinal manipulation, also called chiropractic spinal manipulation, is a technique which helps to realign the spine, reducing the tension on surrounding muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. This reduces pain and stiffness in the lower back and improves range of motion. Some orthopaedics also perform therapeutic exercise, using specially designed machines to help improve movement and flexibility. And they can also perform therapeutic laser procedures to help correct poor posture and increase flexibility.
One of the primary goals of orthopaedics is to restore proper motion, alignment, and shape to injured or degenerated joints, muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. They strive to eliminate pain, increase function, decrease discomfort, and prevent further bone deterioration. They often treat patients right away, before the tissues begin to become inflamed or damaged. A major component of orthopaedics is spinal decompression or gently applying traction to release any severe degenerative or hazardous changes in the spinal column.
People suffering from common problems like muscle cramps, arthritis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and spinal deformities can often be treated with physical therapy. Physical therapy, also called active rehabilitation, was often the only choice for patients with these types of injuries because it allowed them to be active again and not be confined to the hospital or bed. But today more people are choosing to use orthopaedics because it is less invasive than surgery. It’s less expensive and usually results in faster recoveries. Plus an orthopaedist has a much better understanding of how to treat the problem at hand, which is usually a combination of exercises, massage, physical therapy, braces, stretching, immobilization, stress relief, and biofeedback.
Today more people are turning to orthopaedics than ever before. They are choosing this medical specialty because they are looking for a cure, and they are finding that orthopaedic medicine is what’s causing their pain going away. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on surgery or extensive physical therapy, they are being told by their doctor that all they need to do is go see an orthopaedic. Orthopaedics aren’t new. This is a very important part of the medical specialty, but in recent years many people have been focusing their attention on other health issues instead.