When Do You Need an Orthopedic Surgeon?
by Dr. Scott Gelman, MD
Have you ever woken up at night with a numb or tingling hand? Maybe you
have been taking a hike, stepped wrong on a root and twisted an ankle?
On the other hand, maybe you are someone who sees a staircase and thinks
about the throbbing pain in your knee. You are not alone.
These are all injuries and conditions that affect people of all ages, and
can stop us from doing the things we love. That’s when it’s
time to call an Orthopedic Surgeon! We are the medical experts who have
the most training in caring for these aches and pains.
You’re probably thinking, “Okay great, but what is an orthopedic
Recently, one member of my extended family asked me if I was a foot doctor
or if I also treated hips and knees. This is a common question.
Orthopedic surgeons are physicians who have spent at least 13 years devoting
their lives to learning everything from prevention to diagnosis and treatment
of conditions related to muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints.
That training typically includes performing over 2000 surgeries, but most
of our training includes treating the vast majority of our patients with
non-surgical care. This includes a combination of medications, physical
therapy, braces and injections. When these non-surgical treatments stop
working, or when certain conditions are severe enough, orthopedic surgeons
can perform surgery to fix or reconstruct the abnormality.
Common conditions treated by an Orthopedic Surgeon include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff tears
- ACL tears
Now you are probably wondering how you would know if you have one of the
diagnoses that orthopedic surgeons can treat. Don’t worry - that’s our job!
Most patients come in simply knowing that one of their joints hurt and
need help to figure out why. When you come in to see us, we will frequently
get x-rays, listen to your story, perform a physical exam, make a diagnosis
and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
At the end of the day, our goal is to serve our patients. My wife once
asked me why I was so passionate about becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
I think my answer was similar to what most orthopedic surgeons would say
- who wouldn’t want to have a career where they spend every day
helping people get back to work, family and doing the things they love
so they can enjoy their life to the fullest!
Did you know? The term “orthopedic” derived from the Greek words for “straight”
Nowadays, many orthopedic surgeons do treat pediatric fractures as our
title suggests, but we do much more than that!