What Is Orthopaedics?

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Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This includes the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves that support and move the body. Orthopedic doctors, also known as orthopedists, may specialize in certain areas such as sports medicine, trauma surgery, joint replacement, and pediatric orthopedics. They use both surgical and nonsurgical techniques to treat a wide range of conditions, from simple fractures to complex spine deformities. (1)

Professional Orthopedist explain on area of model knee joint at clinic

Overview and Definition 

Orthopedics is a medical specialty focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. The aim of orthopedic care is to help patients regain or maintain their physical functionality, mobility, and quality of life. Orthopedic conditions can range from acute injuries, such as fractures and dislocations, to chronic conditions, such as arthritis and back pain. 

Orthopedic specialists may use a combination of non-surgical and surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, joint injections, braces, and surgery, to manage these conditions. They also work closely with other healthcare providers, such as physical therapists and primary care physicians, to provide comprehensive care to patients. (2,3)

Education and Training

To become an orthopedic surgeon, a candidate must complete a rigorous education and training process. This includes obtaining a bachelor's degree, attending medical school, and completing a residency program in orthopedic surgery.

The education and training process typically takes around 13 years to complete. After obtaining a bachelor's degree, candidates must attend medical school and complete a four-year program to obtain a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree.

After medical school, aspiring orthopedic surgeons must complete a residency program in orthopedic surgery. The residency program typically takes five years to complete and involves both classroom and hands-on training. During this time, residents will gain experience in a variety of orthopedic specialties, including trauma surgery, joint replacement, sports medicine, and pediatric orthopedics.

After completing their residency, some orthopedic surgeons may choose to pursue additional fellowship training in a specific area of orthopedics, such as spinal surgery, hand surgery, or foot and ankle surgery. Fellowship training typically takes one to two years to complete and provides additional specialized training and experience.

In addition to the formal education and training requirements, orthopedic surgeons must also pass board certification exams administered by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) to become board-certified. The ABOS certification process involves both a written exam and an oral exam and is designed to ensure that orthopedic surgeons have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide high-quality patient care.

Overall, the education and training process for orthopedic surgeons is lengthy and rigorous but is necessary to ensure that orthopedic surgeons are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to provide effective and safe care for their patients. (4,5,6)

Practicing as an Orthopedist 

happy orthopedist looking at x-ray in clinic

Orthopedists, also known as orthopedic surgeons, are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. These can include conditions affecting bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.

Orthopedists use a variety of techniques to diagnose and treat their patients, including physical examinations, imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans, and laboratory tests. They also perform surgical procedures when necessary, such as joint replacements and reconstructive surgeries.

Common conditions that orthopedists treat include fractures, arthritis, spinal disorders, sports injuries, and congenital disorders. They may also work with patients who have disabilities or chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy, scoliosis, and osteoporosis.

Orthopedists often work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and sports medicine specialists, to provide comprehensive care for their patients. They may also collaborate with researchers and engineers to develop new technologies and treatment methods.

Overall, the role of an orthopedist is to help their patients regain function and mobility, reduce pain and discomfort, and improve their overall quality of life. (7,8)

Procedures Performed

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal system disorders and injuries involving bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and skin. Orthopedic surgery is a form of treatment that can address a wide range of conditions, including congenital abnormalities, injuries, and degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Various types of orthopedic surgeries are available for different musculoskeletal problems.


Orthopedic surgeons perform various hand procedures to treat injuries and disorders affecting the hand, wrist, and forearm. The specific procedure used depends on the individual patient's condition and the severity of the injury or disorder. Here are some common hand procedures in orthopedics:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Dupuytren's Contracture
  • Ganglion Cysts of the Wrist and Hand
  • Arthritis of the Thumb
  • Ulnar Nerve Entrapment


In orthopedics, the shoulder is a common area of concern and there are various procedures that can be performed to address shoulder problems. The specific procedure chosen will depend on the underlying condition of the shoulder problem and the individual patient's needs. 

  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Conditioning Program
  • Rotator Cuff Tears: Surgical Treatment Options
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy
  • Shoulder Joint Replacement
  • Shoulder Surgery


Orthopedic surgeons perform various hip procedures to diagnose, treat, and manage hip conditions and injuries. Orthopedic surgeons may recommend different hip procedures depending on the patient's specific condition.


There are several knee procedures that orthopedic surgeons may perform, depending on the specific condition of the patient. Some of the most common knee procedures are:

  • Knee Arthroscopy
  • Meniscal Repair / Resection
  • ACL Reconstruction
  • PCL Reconstruction
  • Patellofemoral Stabilisation
  • High Tibial Osteotomy
  • Unicompartmental Knee Replacement
  • Total Knee Replacement
  • Revision Knee Replacement (9)

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  • 1,2- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthopedic_surgery