What is Orthopedic Surgery?

Orthopedic surgery or orthopedics is a medical specialty that focuses on injuries and conditions involving your musculoskeletal system – the parts of your body that allow you to move and be active, including your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves.

What kinds of injuries or disorders do orthopedia surgeons treat?

The orthopedic surgeons at Harvard Vanguard provide treatment for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including:

  • fractures and dislocations
  • torn ligaments, sprains and strains
  • tendon injuries, pulled muscles and bursitis
  • ruptured discs, sciatica, low back pain and scoliosis
  • arthritis and osteoporosis
  • bunions and hammer toes

Do orthopedic surgeons only treat patients with surgery?

No, our orthopedic surgeons are skilled at using both surgical and non-surgical treatments. Many musculoskeletal conditions can be treated without surgery by using medication, physical and occupational therapy, or other alternative therapies.

What is arthroscopy, and how does it compare to other surgical techniques?

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that utilizes a fiber optic camera, called an “arthroscope,” to allow a surgeon to view an affected joint without requiring a large incision.

When compared to traditional surgery, this minimally invasive surgical procedure using a small incision provides several potential benefits: reduced tissue damage, blood loss and scarring. Likewise, the less invasive surgery often leads to a shorter recovery period.

What is total joint replacement?

Total joint replacement procedure involves the complete removal of a damaged or arthritic joint, and its replacement with an artificial joint implant, called a prosthesis. While a single traumatic event may require a total joint replacement, the procedure is often indicated as a treatment for chronic joint pain. Commonly replaced joints include the hip and knee, which can become worn due to age, weight, or disease, such as osteoarthritis.

Total joint replacement is only recommended when non-surgical treatment methods, such as physical therapy and medication, fail to alleviate joint pain.

What are symptoms of common joint injuries

Symptoms often related to common joint injuries can include pain, swelling, redness, warmth and stiffness.

Be sure to contact your provider if you experience any of the following:

  • You have severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint.
  • The injured area looks crooked or has lumps and bumps (other than swelling) that you do not see on the uninjured joint.
  • You cannot move the injured joint.
  • Your limb buckles or gives way when you try to use the joint.
  • You have numbness in any part of the injured area.
  • You see redness or red streaks spreading out from the injury.
  • You injure an area that has been injured several times before.
  • You have pain, swelling, or redness over a bony part of your foot.
  • You are in doubt about the seriousness of the injury or how to care for it.

What is a recommended treatment for minor orthopedic injuries?

The treatment plan for an orthopedic injury will vary based on the degree of damage to the area. Most minor injuries are initially treated with a strategy known as RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

What is a cortisone/corticosteroid injection?

Cortisone is a steroid that is produced naturally in the body. Synthetically produced cortisone can also be injected into soft tissues and joints to help decrease inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, pain may diminish as a result of reduced inflammation. In orthopedics, cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment for chronic conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis.

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a potent steroid injection that helps decrease the inflammation of compressed spinal nerves to relieve pain in the back, neck, arms or legs. Cortisone is injected directly into the spinal canal for pain relief from conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or radiculopathy. Some patients may need only one injection, but it usually takes two or three injections, given two weeks apart, to provide significant pain relief.

What are muscle spasms?

When muscles become inflamed, they can also spasm, or contract tightly, as a response to injury. While they are the body’s way of protecting itself from further injury, they often produce excruciating and often debilitating pain. Muscle spasms are common in the low back (lumbar) muscles.

What should I bring to my first visit?

Please bring your current insurance card and any referrals required by your insurance carrier. Also, bring a list of current medications and any MRIs, X-rays or any other testing results that have been done related to your appointment with us.

What should I wear to my appointment?

Loose, comfortable clothing is most appropriate. All knee patients are encouraged to wear shorts or clothing that rises above the knee cap.