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Most Common Reasons People See an Orthopedic Surgeon

Jun 21, 2022

Most Common Reasons People See an Orthopedic SurgeonAn orthopedic surgeon specializes in diagnosing and treating injuries and health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, including injuries and issues with bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Orthopedic surgeons treat people of all ages, including children and older adults. While their title says surgeon, not all orthopedic surgeons will perform surgery. Another name for an orthopedic surgeon is an orthopedic doctor. These terms can sometimes be used interchangeably to describe this type of physician. Orthopedic surgeons attend medical school before going into a mandatory residency program. Many orthopedic surgeons also do a fellowship in a specific area of orthopedic surgery, like hand surgery or pediatric orthopedics. Whether you get a referral from your primary care doctor or an orthopedic doctor after a recent accident, orthopedic surgeons offer a wide range of medical services to help relieve your pain and improve your health.

What Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Do?

You can visit an orthopedic surgeon for a diagnosis and treatment plan when you experience symptoms that affect your musculoskeletal system. One of the most common reasons to see an orthopedic surgeon is because of pain. Everyone will experience some type of joint pain during their lifetime. When that pain starts to impact your ability to go about your daily routines and participate in activities you enjoy, an orthopedic surgeon can help. Here are some of the main things an orthopedic surgeon does.

Diagnose Issues

The first thing your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon will do is determine or confirm a diagnosis. A combination of a physical examination and your medical history will help inform your doctor of the most appropriate diagnosis. Orthopedic doctors can diagnose health conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or injuries like broken bones or whiplash. Musculoskeletal injuries and health conditions can affect multiple parts of the body, so your orthopedic surgeon may want to run some tests to get a better look at the source of your pain. Orthopedic surgeons utilize X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scan results to support an accurate diagnosis of your injury or health condition. These diagnostic imaging tools provide highly detailed information about structures inside your body like bones, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues.

Manage Pain

Many injuries and health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system can cause pain and discomfort. An orthopedic doctor will want to identify the source of your pain to determine the best approach for treatment. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating pain from head to toe. In some cases, like healing from a recent injury, the goal will be to eliminate your pain. In other cases, like a progressive health condition, the goal will be to manage and reduce your pain. Orthopedic doctors specialize in pain management and help with musculoskeletal injuries of all kinds. Many injuries and health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system will respond well to non-surgical treatment options to manage your pain. Orthopedic surgeons identify where your pain is coming from and develop a treatment plan for the best way to treat your pain.

Improve Mobility

A recent injury may limit your mobility, which means you won’t be able to perform all the tasks and activities you are used to. For example, if you break your arm, you may need a cast, which will keep you from using that arm in certain ways. An orthopedic doctor will not only put your arm in the cast but will also work with you once the cast comes off. Pain, stiffness, or swelling from an injury or health condition can prevent you from completing everyday tasks, like showering, bending over, or even driving your car. Orthopedic surgeons help you regain your range of motion after a recent injury with treatment techniques that range from noninvasive to surgery when needed. Certain health conditions can also limit your mobility, and your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon can work with you to regain and maintain a healthy range of motion.

Treat Injuries

Orthopedic surgeons treat all kinds of injuries that impact the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic doctor will treat common injuries such as broken bones, dislocations, muscle injuries, tendon tears, and repetitive movement injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. There are two main types of injuries: those that happen suddenly, known as acute injuries, and those that can develop more slowly, known as overuse injuries. Orthopedic surgeons treat acute injuries like whiplash, broken bones, and dislocations. They also treat overuse injuries like golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee, and tendonitis. Any injury to the musculoskeletal system can impact your mobility and keep you from moving around like you normally would. Orthopedic surgeons develop a plan of care that addresses your injuries and symptoms so you can experience lasting relief.

Prevent Injuries

Orthopedic surgeons also work with patients to help prevent future injuries. Certain health conditions and injuries can leave you at greater risk for future injuries. An orthopedic surgeon will develop a prevention plan to help you avoid these repeat injuries from occurring. In some cases, the best way to prevent a serious injury from reoccurring is to undergo a surgical procedure. In other cases, your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon may be able to provide you with less invasive treatment options that will help you improve your strength, flexibility, and stability.

Perform Surgery

Orthopedic surgeons do perform surgery when it is necessary. Contrary to popular belief, your orthopedic doctor does a lot more than just perform surgeries all day. However, when the severity of an injury or health condition calls for it, then surgery may be the best option for lasting pain relief and optimal healing and recovery. When less invasive treatment approaches cannot successfully address your injury or health condition, your Atlanta orthopedic doctors may recommend surgery.

5 Common Conditions an Orthopedic Surgeon Treats

Common Conditions an Orthopedic Surgeon TreatsThere are so many injuries and conditions that impact the musculoskeletal system that an orthopedic surgeon can treat. Here are five examples of common reasons people see an orthopedic surgeon.

Broken Bones

One of the most common reasons for visiting an orthopedic surgeon is if you suffer a broken bone. While your bones are strong, they can still crack, split, or break with enough pressure or force. A broken bone is also called a fracture. There are many different kinds of fractures, though the most common ones you might think of include fractures to the arms and wrists. Wrist fractures and arm fractures are common orthopedic injuries that affect both children and adults. A child might fall on the playground, while jumping on a trampoline, or while riding their bike. Children’s bones break more easily than adults because their bones are still growing, which makes them more fragile. A fractured collarbone, arm, elbow, and wrist are commonly broken bones in children. In many cases, an orthopedic surgeon will be able to use a cast to correct a simple broken bone. However, some fractures may require surgery to hold the bones in place for proper healing.


Inflammation of the joints is known as arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, and they can affect one or multiple joints in the body. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs with gradual wear and tear on the joints as you age. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms of arthritis can include pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around your joints. You may experience arthritis in a specific place, like your hands, or you could develop arthritis all over. Osteoarthritis can cause a limited range of motion, and you may even hear cracking or popping sounds when you move your joints in certain ways. An orthopedic doctor can diagnose what type of arthritis you have and develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. Orthopedic surgeons can prescribe medications and may recommend steroid shots to help reduce inflammation. In some cases, you may need surgery to replace a joint affected by arthritis.


Sciatica refers to a specific type of pain that occurs in your lower back. The sciatic nerve is located at the base of your spinal cord and runs through the hips, buttocks, and legs. This nerve is very important for healthy functioning in the lower half of your body because it impacts your ability to move and feel your legs. Irritation or injury to the sciatic nerve can lead to sciatica. Sciatica is a sensation that typically occurs in your lower back and extends into the hip, buttock, and leg on one side of the body. Sciatica will cause pain, tingling, and numbness in this area. The pain is often described as sharp, burning, or stabbing and can cause you to lose sensation for periods of time in the affected areas. An orthopedic doctor will want to identify the source of your sciatica in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan for you. Common causes of sciatica include a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or a sudden injury to the lower back.

Car Accident Injuries

Millions of car accidents occur each year, and drivers and passengers often end up in the doctor’s office for some kind of pain or injury afterward. Orthopedic doctors treat all kinds of car accident injuries, including whiplash, concussions, broken bones, sprains, and strains. A car accident injury like whiplash causes the muscles in your neck to stretch and strain out of their normal range of motion. Whiplash can also impact the spine in your neck and lead to discomfort in your upper back and shoulders. Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in car accident injuries and treat injuries like whiplash every day. A car accident injury can cause pain, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. Your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon will provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan to help you heal and recover.

Sports Injuries

Orthopedic surgeons also work with athletes of all ages and levels. Sports injuries can impact your ability to participate in an activity you enjoy, or they can sideline professional athletes from getting on the field. An orthopedic surgeon can assess all sports injuries commonly affecting the musculoskeletal system. High-contact sports like football and hockey put players at greater risk for injury. In contrast, runners, tennis players, and golfers can develop overuse injuries due to the pressure of repetitive movements on the body. Sports injuries can cause pain that gets worse with certain movements that you depend on to perform successfully in your sport. Your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon can work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your sports injury so you can get back to doing what you love. Orthopedic surgeons can specialize in sports injuries and athletic performance, so they can help all kinds of athletes learn ways to prevent future injuries.

Treatment Options with an Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic surgeons treat patients using both noninvasive techniques and surgical options. Not every patient who sees an orthopedic surgeon will need some type of surgery. Orthopedic surgeons are experts in treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, with advanced knowledge and training in these areas. When an injury or condition keeps you from moving around as much as you used to, an Atlanta orthopedic doctor can help. They may start with more conservative treatment approaches to see if your injury or health condition will respond well to noninvasive techniques. Surgery will always involve a longer recovery period, which is why your orthopedic surgeon will make sure this is the right course of treatment for you.

Visit AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta, where our team of orthopedic surgeons works alongside physical therapists, chiropractors, and neurologists to offer a comprehensive approach to your treatment and care. We offer diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs in the office, so you can meet with your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon and get the necessary scans in one convenient Atlanta location.


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