Common Orthopaedic Problems And
Reading Time: 5 minutes
How To Treat Them
How To Treat Them
If you’ve played sports, particularly high-impact sports, competitively for much of your life, then you may be familiar with the term orthopaedics.
It’s a branch of medicine specialising in diagnosing and treating issues with the musculoskeletal system—this encompasses your bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints, and nerves. Those twinges in your knee when you stand up, or achy bones on a cold day, may just be a sign that you need to see an orthopaedic doctor.
Some injuries can be treated with rest and physical rehabilitation, while others require surgical intervention.
In this article, we’ll explore more about what an orthopaedic surgeon does, how they can help you and when to seek medical attention. Let’s put your mind at ease.
We’ll cover the following topics
- What is an orthopaedic doctor?
- What does an orthopaedic doctor do?
- Common conditions orthopaedics treat
- 8 types of orthopaedic problems
- How to treat orthopaedic problems
- Meet Welwitschia Hospital’s dynamic orthopaedic duo
- When should you see an orthopaedic doctor
What is an orthopaedic doctor?
An orthopaedic doctor, also known as an orthopaedic surgeon, treats injuries to the musculoskeletal structure: your bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves.
What does an orthopaedic doctor do?
Injuring any part of the musculoskeletal structure can severely impact your ability to move with ease and without pain. An orthopaedic doctor spends their day:
- diagnosing and treating injuries caused by high-impact sports or frequent physical activity
- strategising ways to manage chronic and painful conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, and how to prevent further injury
- advising a rehabilitation plan to get you back to full health. The focus will be on building strength, improving flexibility, and regaining movement and a range of motion post-surgery or injury.
Many orthopaedic doctors are generalists, while some choose to specialise in a particular area. These include but aren’t limited to the:
- hip and knee joint
- sports medicine
- ankle and foot
- shoulder and elbow
- trauma surgery.
An orthopaedic surgeon doesn’t work alone. He has a team of physio and occupational therapists, nurses, anaesthetists, physician assistants and professional athletic coaches on hand to help you get the best results possible.
Common conditions orthopaedics treat
Orthopaedics treat a variety of ailments and injuries. Some are present from birth, such as club foot and others present with time, for example, wear and tear due to age.
These include but aren’t limited to:
- joint and back pain (degenerative spinal conditions such as a slipped disc)
- neck pain
- shoulder issues such as bursitis
- muscle strains
- bone cancer
- bone fractures
- bone abnormalities such as club foot, bowlegs, scoliosis, hip dysplasia
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- and injuries to tendons and ligaments such as sprains, ACL tears and tendonitis due to overuse.
While you can see a general practitioner (GP), bio kineticist or physical therapist to treat many of the conditions listed above, an orthopaedic doctor is a specialist. They have years of advanced training and knowledge in treating musculoskeletal conditions, so it makes sense to entrust your care to them.
8 types of orthopaedic problems
Within orthopaedics, there are sub specialities in which an orthopaedic doctor may specialise. We’ve listed these below:
- Sports medicine
- Paediatric orthopaedics
- Trauma surgery
- Spinal surgery
- Musculoskeletal oncology
- Joint replacement surgeon (hip, knee, elbow, etc.)
- Foot and ankle
- Hand and upper extremity
How to treat orthopaedic problems
Not all injuries require surgery. Some can be treated entirely with physical rehabilitation. In fact, 70% of all sports injuries can be successfully treated with rest, hot and cold therapy, injections, medication, stretching and strength exercises. In some instances, your doctor may recommend immobilising the injured area with a splint, cast or brace.
Sometimes your doctor will recommend making vital lifestyle changes. This could mean modifying your exercise routines or the types of exercises you engage in. For example, running is high-impact on the knees. Your doctor may advise you to switch up to swimming and cycling as it’s low impact.
You may also need to change your diet. Being overweight places an extra load on your joints which can aggravate an injury. Losing weight can speed up your healing process.
But there are times when surgery is necessary for quality of life. We’ve listed a few.
- Joint replacements such as hip and knee replacements are commonly performed on older patients. These are people whose joints are failing due to damage or disease.
- Internal repair, such as a fracture repair, involves using screws, pins, rods, and plates to hold broken bones together.
- Fusions are often performed on people with neck and spinal injuries. It involves using bone grafting material to connect the injured vertebrae. As the surrounding tissue heals, the bones fuse together.
- Arthroscopic surgery is used to treat joint injuries such as knee repairs. Through a small incision, a fibre optic camera encased in a tube is inserted into the joint to view the extent of the damage.
- Release surgery is performed on people with carpal tunnel syndrome. It involves cutting through the ligament to release pressure on the median nerve.
Meet Welwitschia Hospital’s dynamic orthopaedic duo
At Welwitschia Hospital, your care is our priority. It’s why we work with only the best and brightest in their field of medicine.
Dr Müller and Dr Skinner are Resident Orthopaedic Specialists and have completed their Master of Medicine (M.MED) studies in Pretoria, South Africa.
You couldn’t be in better hands.
When should you see an orthopaedic doctor
We know you’re a busy mom. Going to the shops isn’t as simple as people with older children or no children would think. You’ve got to pack the pram, a feeding bib, bottles just in case, nappies, a change of clothing. You’ve then got to get the pram out of your boot, unbuckle your baby’s car seat and snap it into place, all while trying not to wake your sleeping angel.
But if you’re toying with the idea of leaving your little one to sleep in the car, think again. Babies can quickly become overheated, and being left in a car with little to no ventilation, even if only for a short period, can have disastrous consequences. Instead, ask a friend or family member to watch your baby at home if you need to dash to the shops.
Living with constant pain is not normal. Some things can be done to help you lead an everyday life. So we’ve broken down when you need to see an orthopaedic surgeon. All you need to do is answer the following:
- Have you tried physical therapy or been to a bio kineticist or chiropractor to treat reoccurring joint and skeletal pain?
- Do you regularly take pills to relieve pain or muscular spasm?
- Has your range in motion decreased over the last three months?
- Are you finding it difficult to perform everyday activities such as walking upstairs or jogging?
If you answer yes to most of the questions listed above, speak to your GP about referring you to an orthopaedic doctor. Alternatively, if you live in the Walvis Bay area, book an appointment with a Welwitschia Hospital orthopaedic specialist here.
Stop guessing and start your road to recovery.
You might also find these articles useful:
If you enjoyed this post, why not take a look at our other health-diagnostic articles: