Is there a difference between Orthopaedic and Orthopedic?
Orthopaedic vs. Orthopedic: which is correct? And is there a difference?
Nope – they’re the same. Orthopaedic and orthopedic both refer to the exact same specialty, with just slightly different spelling variations. Orthopaedics is the original British form of the word and Orthopedics is the more commonly used, Americanized version. However, most universities, higher education departments, and professional organizations, like the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, still rely on the British spelling. You can use them interchangeably.
Where did the word come from?
Both words originate from the Greek words “orthos” – meaning straight – and “paideion” – meaning children. Originally coined by 17th-century physician Nicholas Andry de Bois-Regard, it was first practiced as a way to treat spinal deformities in children such as polio or scoliosis.
Today, of course, orthopedics encompasses much more than that.
What is orthopedics?
Modern orthopedics has evolved to handle the diagnosis and treatment of all conditions and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. It entails degenerative conditions, trauma, sports injury, tumors, and congenital issues.
Who performs orthopedics?
Physicians who specialize in orthopedics are called orthopedic surgeons. They don’t, however, only perform surgery. They’re qualified to diagnose, manage, and/or treat musculoskeletal problems that affect bones and soft tissues in the body. An orthopedic surgeon can also recommend rehabilitative treatment methods, education, and guidance to patients to prevent future orthopedic concerns.
When should you see an orthopedic surgeon?
If you’re struggling with common musculoskeletal problems like knee pain, back pain, joint pain, or an injury that just doesn’t seem to be getting better, you may benefit from paying a visit to an orthopedic specialist.
They can help diagnose and treat many types of pain, like:
Back or neck pain
Shoulder, elbow, wrist, or hand pain
Ankle or foot pain
Pain and stiffness of the joints often lead to limited range of motion, which an orthopedic specialist can also help with. By increasing your range of motion, it makes it easier to complete everyday tasks without experiencing any stiffness or discomfort.
You can also visit an orthopedic doctor if you’ve sprained, fractured, or broken a bone. Or, if you’ve torn or otherwise injured soft tissue (like a ligament or tendon), they can help with that as well. Athletes often work closely with orthopedic surgeons to heal injuries and prevent future incidents.
Some of the injuries that can be addressed by an orthopedist include:
Bone fractures, like a broken hip, broken wrist, kneecap, or compression fracture of the vertebrae
Soft tissue/tendon injuries like an Achilles tendon rupture or torn ACL
Sprained ankles, wrists, etc.
Rotator cuff tear
Carpal tunnel syndrome
You can also set up an appointment with an orthopedist if you’re dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis, bursitis, and osteoporosis. These can be debilitating conditions that cause pain, dysfunction, and limited range of motion.
Here’s a basic overview of reasons why you may want to consult an orthopedist:
pain, stiffness, or discomfort that makes daily activities difficult
chronic pain (pain that has lasted longer than 12 weeks)
decreased range of motion
instability while walking or standing
progressive weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
soft tissue injury that hasn’t improved after a few days
How can an orthopedic doctor help you?
In addition to identifying and diagnosing the source of your pain or discomfort, an orthopedist will work with you to create a treatment plan. Your treatment plan will depend on factors like:
The severity of your condition
The degree to which your condition affects daily activities
Your overall health
Based on these factors, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatments, like:
A combination of the above
Remember: while they’re commonly referred to as orthopedic surgeons, seeing an orthopedist doesn’t mean you need surgery. They can also perform a number of non-surgical treatment options to help you manage your condition and prevent future injuries. They can also provide a second opinion or refer you to an outside specialist.
Can you treat orthopedic issues at home?
Not every injury is an emergency, and not every injury requires a trip to the doctor. There are certainly situations where you can treat common orthopedic concerns in the comfort of your own home.
Here are some examples of preventative activities you can do to avoid sustaining an orthopedic injury.
If you work at a desk or computer, take breaks regularly and avoid hunching over your computer. Consider a standing desk/workstation that allows you to work on your feet.
If your job involves physical labor, be aware of repetitive movements that may cause muscle strains.
If you do heavy lifting or exercise often, make sure to stretch beforehand and lift properly so you don’t risk injuring your back.
And, as a basic rule of thumb, make sure to always wear comfortable, supportive shoes, to stretch often, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Orthopedic injuries are common, but they don’t have to put a wrench in your day to day life. If you’ve referred to the symptoms we mentioned earlier and you’re experiencing chronic pain or you’ve sustained a musculoskeletal injury, you should consult your local orthopedist for treatment.
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