AAOS would like to thank their Members who contributed patient stories for this campaign. Click here to view the full list.
The value of orthopaedic care is best communicated through the inspiring life stories of the millions of patients cared for by orthopaedic surgeons. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has created the A Nation in Motion campaign to showcase these often amazing success stories shared by patients across the country. At the heart of the campaign is one simple sentence we are asking our patients to complete: “Because of my orthopaedic care, I can _____.”
Through the voices of our patients, we hope to empower others to embrace their health and take back their lives by discovering the value and benefits orthopaedic care offers patients by restoring mobility, reducing pain and getting people back to doing what they love.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Founded in 1933, the Academy is the preeminent provider of musculoskeletal education to orthopaedic surgeons and others in the world. Its continuing medical education activities include a world-renowned Annual Meeting, multiple CME courses held around the country and at the Orthopaedic Learning Center, and various medical and scientific publications and electronic media materials.
Why Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon
Back pain, sports injuries, arthritic hips and knees, and stiff neck muscles are just a few of the musculoskeletal conditions that have an enormous impact on Americans and the entire health care system. Accounting for approximately 135 million ambulatory health care visits, more than 3 million hospitalizations, nearly $245 billion dollars in medical costs and 488 million days of restricted work activity each year, musculoskeletal ailments comprise more than 14 percent of the health care dollar. For the proper diagnosis and most appropriate treatment options for musculoskeletal conditions, it is important to consult an orthopaedic surgeon.
Who is an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons.
While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, hand, shoulder and elbow, spine, hip or knee. Orthopaedic surgeons may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma, reconstructive surgery, oncology (bone tumors) or sports medicine.
Education and Training
An orthopaedic surgeon has extensive training in the proper diagnosis and non-surgical and surgical treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic surgeons have completed approximately 14 years of formal education:
- Four years of study in a college or university
- Four years of study in medical school
- Five years of concentrated study in an orthopaedic residency at a major medical center
- An additional year of specialty training is common
Board certification is a very important step following completion of the orthopaedic training program. To become board certified, an orthopaedic surgeon must undergo a peer-review process, and then demonstrate his/her expertise in orthopaedics by passing both oral and written examinations given by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. It is important to visit orthopaedic surgeons who are either board certified or in the process of becoming certified (board eligible).
Because orthopaedic surgeons complete a rigorous re-certification process every 10 years, they spend many hours studying and attending continuing medical education courses to maintain current orthopaedic knowledge and skills.
Who does an Orthopaedic Surgeon Treat?
Orthopaedic surgeons treat patients of all ages – newborns, children, athletes, baby boomers and the elderly – with conditions that range from bone and joint disorders and fractures to diseases or tears of the muscles, ligaments and tendons in all regions of the body.
It is essential that patients and their families develop partnerships with their physicians. This will help ensure that decisions about medical treatments honor the patients’ wants, needs, preferences and values. Orthopaedic surgeons respect the value of diversity and are committed to serving communities and individuals with unique needs.
What does an Orthopaedic Surgeon Treat?
An orthopaedic surgeon treats many musculoskeletal conditions without surgery, by using medications, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies. If necessary, he/she may also recommend surgical treatment if the patient does not respond to other treatments.
Some of the conditions and diseases an orthopaedic surgeon treats include:
- Abnormalities of the fingers and toes
- Back pain, ruptured disks, sciatica and scoliosis
- Bone tumors, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
- Club foot, bunions, bow legs, knock knees and unequal leg length
- Fractures and dislocations
- Growth abnormalities
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sports or work-related injuries
- Tendon injuries, pulled muscles, bursitis and torn cartilage
- Torn ligaments, sprains and strains
What Types of Surgeries do Orthopaedic Surgeons Perform?
Orthopaedic surgeons perform numerous types of surgeries on patients. Common surgeries include:
- Arthroscopy – a procedure using special cameras and equipment to visualize, diagnose and treat problems inside a joint.
- Fusion – a “welding” process by which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices – such as metal rods – to heal into a single solid bone.
- Internal Fixation – a method to hold the broken pieces of bone in proper position with metal plates, pins or screws while the bone is healing.
- Joint replacement (partial, total and revision) – when an arthritic or damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis.
- Osteotomy – the correction of bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.
- Soft Tissue Repair – the mending of soft tissue, such as torn tendons or ligaments.
What Should a Patient Expect from a Visit with an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
In general, visits with an orthopaedic surgeon start with a personal interview, physical examination and review of previous records or tests. This may be followed by additional diagnostic exams, such as blood tests, X-rays or other images. For most orthopaedic conditions and injuries there may be more than one form of treatment. The orthopaedic surgeon will discuss treatment options with the patient to mutually determine the plan best suited for his/her health and lifestyle.
Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information on bone and joint health. Our public health website (orthoinfo.org) is an all-in-one resource for people who want to learn more about their musculoskeletal health or about the bone, joint and muscle conditions and injuries. For more information on AAOS, visit www.aaos.org.