Orthopaedic Overview

Information provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

What is Orthopaedics?

Orthopaedics is a field of medicine that encompasses the surgical and non-surgical treatment of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.

What is an Orthopaedic Surgeon?

An Orthopaedic Surgeon is a surgeon who has completed four years of medical school and a minimum of five years of specialty training in an accredited orthopaedic residency program. Certification by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons requires peer review of performance and training and passing a comprehensive oral and written examination. Orthopaedic Surgeons also continue their education by taking continuing medical education and home study courses to maintain a high level of skills and competence.

What do Orthopaedic Surgeons treat?

Orthopaedic Surgeons treat a broad range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. A combination of medical, physical and surgical treatment methods may be employed to restore function and minimize disability. For patients with complex injuries or deformities, the coordination of many health care professionals is often required, including physicians, therapists, nurses and orthotists.

The specialty of orthopaedics includes knowledge and treatment of:

  • Trauma – injuries such as fractures, dislocations and torn ligaments
  • Spine – acute injuries, chronic degenerative disorders and deformity
  • Total joint replacement
  • Hand, elbow and shoulder injuries and disorders
  • Foot and ankle injuries and disorders
  • Sports injuries
  • Oncology – tumors of bones, joints, tendons and muscles
  • Pediatrics – injuries and disorders
  • Bone and joint infection
  • Arthritis and bursitis
  • Osteoporosis and other metabolic bone diseases
  • Congenital deformities such as spina bifida, clubfeet and dislocated hips
  • Certain disorders of the neuromuscular system such as cerebral palsy
  • Rehabilitation