Orthopedic Doctors: What Are They And How Can They Help?

Many people never need the services of an orthopedic doctor or surgeon, and you may not either. But if you do, then you need to know what an orthopedic doctor does and how to locate one in your area.

Is An Orthopedic Doctor The Same As An Orthopedic Surgeon?

All orthopedic surgeons are orthopedic doctors, but not all orthopedic doctors are orthopedic surgeons.

The field of orthopedics encompasses the entire musculoskeletal system, which includes all the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that facilitate your everyday movement. Whether your issue is acute or chronic – which means it hasn’t happened before or it’s a recurring problem – an orthopedic doctor can diagnose and treat it. You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon, depending on the type and severity of your issue.

Many conditions can be both acute and chronic. Arthritis, for example, affects more than half of those who are more than 65 years old, and it can develop over time or suddenly. Whether arthritis is acute, chronic, or degenerative, it’s a painful disease that can be treated orthopedically to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from the disease, regardless of their age.

What Is An Orthopedic Specialist?

Since there are more than 200 bones in the body, about 600 muscles, and about 4,000 tendons, many orthopedic surgeons specialize in one area, such as the hips or knees. However, there are specialists within the orthopedic surgeon category, so you’ll need to know if your condition warrants an orthopedic surgical specialist.

Many orthopedic specialists aren’t orthopedic surgeons, and not all orthopedic issues need surgical correction. The majority of sports medicine injuries are treated without orthopedic surgery, for example, but your orthopedic specialist can advise you if you need surgery.

What About Laser Surgery

Surgical lasers are now used in orthopedic surgery. Lasers are much less invasive, healing time is shorter, and surgeons can access small areas that might be inaccessible using traditional surgical techniques. Lasers are now used for arthroscopic procedures because they cut and ablate more easily, and thermal necrosis is greatly reduced.

Will I Need A Referral From My Primary Care Physician?

Whether you need a referral from your PCP will largely depend on the terms of your health insurance. However, if you have a traumatic orthopedic injury that’s caused or exacerbated by repetitious motions, then you’ll probably need to seek advice from an orthopedic specialist. If your injury is more routine, then consulting your PCP may result in more immediate relief. If your injury begins to interfere with your daily routine, then it may be time to consult an orthopedic specialist.

How Do I Know If I Need A Sub-Specialist?

An orthopedic specialist who specializes in specific body parts is an orthopedic sub-specialist and is often the best resource for specialized issues. They’re often used for extreme, high-risk cases that require surgery and are out of the norm. Sub-specialists are frequently involved in research and development in their area of expertise.

How Do I Select An Orthopedic Doctor Or Surgeon?

If you need an orthopedic specialist, be sure to consider the following factors:


Select an orthopedist who has excellent credentials in training. Optimally, they should have completed an accredited fellowship in their sub-specialty, which should be relevant to your condition. A fellowship is a year or more spent in medical training in their sub-specialty. A fellowship is conducted after their residency, they’re paid for it, and it helps to develop skills in their specialty.


Confirm that your selected surgeon has no history of malpractice claims and no disciplinary actions.


Try to select an orthopedic specialist who is part of a large and well-known healthcare facility. If the facility conducts research, they may see the potential for a better outcome for your issue.


Make sure that you’re comfortable conversing with your orthopedic specialist. They’ll be intimately involved in your life for a while, so you need to feel comfortable discussing your physiological issues with them, and you’ll want to know that they’re listening to you. You don’t want to feel like you’re being ignored or condescended to when you ask a question.

Don’t Continue To Live With Joint And Bone Pain

If you have pain in your joints or your bones, don’t continue to suffer with it. An orthopedic doctor may help you achieve a pain-free life without the need for invasive surgery. If you need surgery, you may qualify for laser surgery, which is less invasive, less painful, and heals more rapidly.

Orthopedic care can enable you to live the active, pain-free life you like, whether it’s playing with your grandkids, running daily, or participating in sports activities. If you have orthopedic pain, then look into orthopedics without delay.