Orthopedists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries to and diseases of the musculoskeletal system - the network of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves that gives the body its shape and allows us to move.
Many of the problems orthopedists treat involve the joints, places in the body where two or more bones meet. Humans have three different kinds of joints: fibrous (in the skull), cartilaginous (in the spine) and synovial (the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles and feet). This last type is what we usually refer to when we say "joint." Ligaments connect bones to each other, and tendons connect muscles and bones.
These parts of our bodies can be damaged from a traumatic injury, disease, congenital disorder or the natural aging process. Commonly treated conditions include arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, bone fractures, sprains and strains, knee and shoulder problems, tendon and ligament tears, osteoporosis, sports injuries, and pediatric conditions such as club foot. Patients may be infants, adolescents, middle-aged or elderly.
The introduction of minimally invasive techniques has meant that many patients can be examined and treated through tiny incisions, minimizing the trauma of "open" surgery and allowing them to enjoy a faster recovery and return to regular activities.
Fracture (Broken Bone) Treament
A fracture is defined as any type of break or crack in the bone. This can range from a small crack to a complete separation, and can be caused by a traumatic event or by normal activities in patients with low bone density, a condition known as osteoporosis. There are several different types of fractures, some of which include:
- Stress fracture
- Compression fracture
- Incomplete (greenstick) fracture
- Comminuted fracture
Fractures cause pain, swelling and bruising in the affected area, which often worsens when weight or pressure is applied. Your doctor can diagnose a fracture often just with a physical examination, although an X-ray or CT scan may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the fracture.
Depending on the type and severity of the fracture, treatment may include ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication for mild fractures; casting or bracing for moderate fractures; or surgery for the most severe cases, including open fractures with wounds that need to be closed. Treatment for fractures aims to heal the bone so that it is properly aligned and able to function once again.
Once proper treatment has been administered, rehabilitation may be performed as well to ensure proper healing. Your doctor will advise you on how to care for your fracture, along with helpful measures you can take to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.
In a healthy joint, the bone ends are covered with a smooth cushion of cartilage and the joint is protected by a fluid-filled capsule called the synovium. Arthritic joints are swollen, or inflamed, usually because the cartilage has been damaged in some way. Patients with arthritis suffer pain, stiffness and swelling in the affected area or areas. Nearly one in three adults suffers from arthritis or other chronic joint symptoms.
There are over 100 different types of arthritic diseases. The most common is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage protecting the bone ends wears away. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks the joint lining.
A diagnosis of arthritis is made after an evaluation of symptoms, a physical examination and one or more diagnostic imaging tests. Unfortunately, most types of arthritis are currently incurable - but today's treatment options can be very effective. Treatment typically involves a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and devices to relieve stress on the joint (canes, crutches or splints). Regular exercise, weight loss for overweight patients, and cortisone injections may also be helpful. In severe cases, orthopedic surgery such as joint replacement may be the only way to improve or restore function and relieve pain.
Corticosteroids are a type of medication used to reduce inflammation and treat conditions such as arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and irritable bowel disease. Corticosteroids are similar to cortisol, a hormone that is naturally produced in the adrenal cortex to help the body deal with stress and manage salt and water levels.
Corticosteroid treatments can be administered through injection, topical application or orally. Although they do not relieve pain on their own, their ability to reduce inflammation usually results in pain relief as well. The relief is often temporary, so multiple treatments may be needed. Corticosteroid injections can also help cure inflammation in small areas in conditions such as bursitis and tendonitis.
Corticosteroid injections offer immediate results with very few side effects. The injection usually causes only minimal pain, while oral doses cause no pain at all. Eventually, cortisone production will resume naturally and the steroids may not be needed. Talk to your doctor for more information on corticosteroids.
To learn more about our General Orthopedic Services, please contact us atÂ (713) 526-2663 today to schedule an appointment.