Adult orthopedic reconstructive surgery is the medical specialty devoted to the surgical care or replacement of damaged joints in adults. Most commonly, this care focuses on the hip and knee, but it can also be used to treat joints such as the shoulder or ankle. Some adult orthopedic reconstructive surgeons specialize on only one part of the body, such as the hip.
The most common cause of joint damage treated by adult orthopedic reconstructive surgeon is arthritis. Other joint issues often seen involve cartilage and ligament tears, autoimmune disorders, and orthopedic complications due to diabetes or cancer.
Some of the procedures that may be performed by an adult orthopedic reconstructive surgeon include:
Joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty
Meniscal repair, fixing a torn piece of cartilage in the knee
Osteotomy, surgery to shorten, lengthen, or straighten a bone
Arthroscopy, a kind of minimally invasive joint surgery using a hollow tube called an endoscope
Resurfacing bones to improve the function of a joint
Even if a bone or joint is damaged, adult orthopedic reconstructive surgeons may have medical treatments available that can help patients avoid or delay surgery. Whether treatment is medical or surgical, their end goal is to help patients move freely and comfortably.
Orthopedic surgeons, sometimes just called orthopedists, are surgical doctors of the musculoskeletal system. They work to keep your body active and in motion by treating problems with your bones, joints, tendons and muscles. The most frequently treated disorder seen by orthopedic surgeons is osteoarthritis, a common “wear-and-tear” problem where the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down, causing friction and pain. Orthopedic surgeons might also see patients for bone and joint deformities, amputation, infections of the bone and joint, overuse injuries, or nerve compression.
Orthopedic surgeons can order tests such as blood work and x-rays to get a clearer picture of the issue. Depending on the illness or injury, more than one different form of treatment may be used. Treatment may include:
Surgery, such as fusing bones together to increase stability, or replacing a joint
Medication, such as pain medication or steroids to promote healing
Casts, splints, or orthotics (devices such as braces or shoe inserts to support the body)
Physical therapy, a kind of treatment using exercise, stretching, heat, and massage to heal the body
Exercise, stretching, movement, and use of the affected part
Orthopedic surgeons also work to prevent injuries and slow the progression of disease in their patients. They educate patients on ways to prevent future injuries, and they treat illness in order to prevent further damage to bones or joints that may be affected by disease. The goal of an orthopedic surgeon is to help their patients restore movement and regain an active life.
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