What Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Do?

What Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Do?

September 15, 2022 0 By Scarlett Watson

Orthopedic surgeons and surgeons generally deal with the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, nerves, joints and muscles. Orthopedic surgeons are responsible for providing surgical treatment to patients with musculoskeletal injury or condition.

The orthopaedic surgeon can provide pain relief, restore motion and improve mobility through surgery or nonsurgical methods to help their patients recover from injuries or conditions.

What Do Orthopedic Surgeons Do?

An orthopaedic surgeon is a doctor that specializes in bone and joint health. These surgeons typically focus on injuries, surgeries, or rehabilitation.

They also work with physicians such as paediatricians, podiatrists, neurologists, and family practitioners to diagnose the condition and prescribe treatments. Orthopaedic surgeons treat conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, fractures, and herniated discs. Orthopaedic surgery can be performed open or closed.

Subspeciality Areas of Orthopedic Surgeons

Many specialities exist within Orthopedics, such as sports medicine, spine surgery, hand surgery, and foot and ankle. A general orthopaedic surgeon will take care of all injuries related to bones and joints.

A sports orthopedist deals with all issues relating to bones and joints related to athletics. They may perform reconstructive surgery for athletes who have suffered the injury during their sporting event, providing pre-habilitation exercises for the player before returning them onto the field.

A spine specialist treats spinal problems ranging from lumbar disc herniation to spinal stenosis (narrowing) to decrease pain levels and improve mobility.

Here are some of the areas orthopaedic surgeons specialize in:

  • spine
  • hip and knee
  • hand
  • shoulder and elbow
  • foot and ankle
  • sports medicine
  • trauma surgery

What Conditions Do Orthopedic Doctors Treat?

When you have pain in your joints, muscles, ligaments or tendons, you may have a condition that is more common in children but can also affect adults. Examples of such conditions include arthritis, fractures, joint injuries and overuse syndromes. Orthopaedic surgeons treat these conditions by restoring normal function to the joints through surgery and nonsurgical treatments.

Here are some of the most common conditions treated by orthopaedic doctors:

  • bone fractures
  • muscle strains
  • joint or back pain
  • arthritis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • injuries to tendons or ligaments, such as sprains, tendonitis, and ACL tears
  • limb abnormalities, such as clubfoot and bowlegs
  • bone cancer

What Types of Procedures Do They Do?

They are one of the many types of doctors specializing in joints, bones, and muscles. They will typically diagnose a problem by examining the patient and order x-rays or other tests to confirm the diagnosis.

After discussing a treatment plan with the patient, they will perform surgery to repair damage or correct abnormalities within a joint such as arthritis. Sometimes this surgery is done arthroscopically so that very little incision must be made to remove a cartilage flap from around the joint.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Oftentimes, the doctor will recommend nonsurgical treatments for your condition. This includes changing lifestyles, such as wearing specially-made shoes or using devices like corsets or shoe inserts. These can help reduce pain and discomfort by maintaining proper posture. The doctor may also prescribe drugs to manage pain and swelling. If this doesn’t work, you may need surgery to repair any damaged tissue in your joints or spine.


In some cases, the doctor may prescribe exercises that strengthen the muscles around your joints. You might be asked to participate in physical therapy sessions designed specifically for people with joint problems. These sessions usually aim to build muscle strength and endurance so you can perform activities more efficiently without pain.


Pain relievers are often prescribed to alleviate pain caused by chronic arthritis. 


To prevent further damage to the joint, your doctor may recommend immobilizing it with a brace or cast until the symptoms subside. 

Lifestyle Changes 

Your doctor may recommend modifying your lifestyle to avoid doing things that put extra stress on the affected area. For example, if you have knee pain, you might want to try not kneeling on the floor while cleaning or avoiding climbing stairs whenever possible.

Other suggestions include finding ways to make sitting less painful (like adding a pillow behind your back), standing instead of sitting whenever possible and limiting tasks requiring repetitive bending at the waist. 

Surgical Treatments

Orthopedic surgeon help to prevent and treat injury to the musculoskeletal system. They do this by treating conditions, most often involving the spine, legs, and shoulders.

Some conditions that can be treated include herniated discs, osteoarthritis (rheumatoid and degenerative), osteoporosis, and scoliosis. Treatment varies by patient but often includes injections with steroids or other drugs to reduce inflammation or cortisone shots to help manage pain.

Some common surgical include:

  • Joint replacement
  • Internal fixation
  • Fusion
  • Osteotomy
  • Soft tissue repair
  • Release surgery


As the leading specialty in musculoskeletal surgorthopaedicpedic surgeons are a patient’s first point of contact when they experience pain or injury related to their skeletal system. After taking a thorough history and physical exam, doctors can perform tests to understand the condition better, such as X-rays or MRI scans. 

Once a diagnosis is made, the team will discuss treatments, discuss possible outcomes, and work with patients on their rehabilitation plans. Get in touch with the doctors at the Max Healthcaregroup for further information.

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