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Up Close And Personal With An Orthopedic Surgeon: What Is It Exactly They Do?



The human body is very well-appreciated for its resiliency that its vulnerability to stress, injury, and illness is often ignored or forgotten. If a person is not extremely careful, he or she may end up permanently disabled and in lifelong pain.

Since the body is comprised of different organs and organ systems, there are a number of ways in which one can get injured or fall ill. The cure to such disease conditions and/or injuries lies mostly in having a thorough and complete understanding of the organ function that is affected.

What is Orthopedics?

Orthopedic surgery provides solutions to breaks or interruption in the function and integrity of the musculoskeletal system. From injuries to congenital physical deformities and degenerative conditions, there is a corresponding orthopedic treatment or procedure.

It was during the 1700s when this concept was first introduced into the medical field through Nicholas Andry’s book Orthopaedia: Correcting And Preventing Deformities In Children. By 1780, Jean-Andre Venel established the first orthopedic institution. And from the 1850s onwards, new tools and materials were invented to aid in the practice. By the First World War, medical professionals already applied crude versions of traction and splinting. And intramedullary rods were already applied to treat fractures of the femur and tibia (thanks to Gerhard Kuntscher of Germany). During the Vietnam War, external fixation was further refined as well as surgical procedures. And by the 21st century, more complicated procedures involving sensitive parts of the system were successfully executed.

Advancement of Musculoskeletal Medical Treatments

One of which is laminectomy, a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a bony arch, vertebra, or lamina from the back to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Conditions that require such surgical intervention usually involve degenerative diseases like spinal stenosis or trauma like a herniated disk. To conduct this procedure, the surgeon usually makes a straight incision over the affected area, layer by layer, down to the protective covering of the spinal cord.

And then he will slowly remove the obtrusive part and expose the nerve root. Then, he will pull it toward the center of the spinal column and have the back muscle protect it instead. Once everything is in place, he sows back the parts and allows them to heal.

And then, there’s arthrodesis, which is a procedure that fuses two bones together to restrict their movement. They are usually applied to those that form a joint like the bones found on the neck, fingers, ankles, wrists, and thumbs. Arthrodesis is usually prescribed to relieve pain and provide stability. An orthopedic surgeon will usually start this operation by opening the area, removing the damaged cartilage, and contouring the bones. Then, screws, plates, or rods are inserted to keep them together. The site is then stitched up and monitored for infection.

Among the many specialties of an orthopedic surgeon is fasciotomy – a medical intervention where the soft tissue component of connective tissues is cut out to relieve pressure or tension. It is usually prescribed for those people who are experiencing inflamed muscles. Failure to immediately undergo such treatment may result in nerve damage. The steps for this procedure are quite easy as all that has to be done is to expose the faulty compartment so that the damaged part can be taken out. However, it may take a while for the doctor to complete the process if the area to be worked on is too big.

If there are problems when it comes to the integrity of the incision area, debridement, which is basically the removal of damaged, infected, or dead tissue in order to improve the healing potential of the surgical area. Debridement typically makes use of a small vacuum which is introduced into the body through a small incision. The unwanted elements are then broken down and sucked out.

In addition to the aforementioned, orthopedic surgeons can also perform arthroplasty, distraction osteogenesis, tenotomy, intramedullary nailing, and percutaneous pinning. And unlike before when children were the primary target of these procedures, there are now practitioners in the field who dedicate their service to adults and athletes.