Q: I live in Tampa, Florida and just found out I need orthopedic surgery. What exactly is that?
A: I imagine you will be visiting an orthopedic surgeon Tampa based, who will discuss your particular case with you. But in general, orthopedic surgery centers on repair of the musculoskeletal system. That’s the part of your body made up the following:
In other words, the parts of the body involved in support and movement. It is the job of an orthopedic surgeon to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system. Although treatment usually involves surgery, in some cases a non-surgical approach is followed. The word “orthopedics” dates back to 1741 where it was use to describe methods of correcting childhood deformities. In the 1950’s, arthroscopic surgery was invented to repair cartilage and ligaments using minimally-invasive surgery. This resulted in less complications and faster recoveries. It is a very popular form of orthopedic surgery, as are all of the following:
- Knee and shoulder arthroscopic surgery
- Carpal tunnel release
- Hip and knee replacement
- Repair of fractured bones
- Ligament repair, especially the anterior cruciate (ACL)
- Repair of the rotator cuff
- Debriding the surface of a joint
- Spinal disc surgery
In addition to problems caused by illness or injuries, orthopedic surgeons are called upon to correct congenital abnormalities such as club foot, harelip, hip dysplasia, spinal scoliosis, cerebral palsy and Marfan’s syndrome. These gifted surgeons often focus on a specialty, such as rheumatoid arthritis and joint replacements.
Another area of expertise deals with physical and occupational therapy, which may be done after or instead of surgery. These medical heroes also advise on the injury prevention, including the importance of lifestyle, exercise and diet. The vast majority of U.S. orthopedic surgeons complete a residency that lasts four to five years following graduation from medical school. Their residency time is divided such that ¾ of their time is spent on orthopedic surgery, the remainder on general surgery. Half a year is devoted to pediatric orthopedics.
Following residency, orthopedic surgeons can select a one to two year fellowship in some specialty, such as the hand, the spine, joint replacement, reconstructive surgery or sports-related injuries. Many orthopedic surgeons receive certification from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons once they complete their residencies. This board certification requires that the surgeons pass written and oral tests. Additional training and testing can result in a Certificate of Added Qualifications for areas like hand surgery or sports medicine. Continuing education is a must, and surgeons who want to remain certified must take an exam every decade.