What Do Orthopedics Doctors Do
Orthopedists are specialists in the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. These specialists are trained in diagnosing and treating bone and joint disease and injuries, which may involve orthopedic surgery. Your primary care provider is likely to refer you to an orthopedist if you have joint or musculoskeletal pain from a previous injury. A primary care provider may also refer you to an orthopedic surgeon if they suspect youll need surgical treatment to correct joint pain, such as a total knee or hip replacement.
Orthopedists often treat conditions such as osteoarthritis , nerve pain, sports injuries, herniated discs, osteoporosis, and many other conditions. Although orthopedics involves surgical correction of many musculoskeletal problems, being referred to an orthopedic surgeon doesnt necessarily mean you will absolutely need surgery to correct your joint pain or injury.
Getting Ready For Surgery
Here are some tips to help you prepare for surgery:
- Plan for recovery and returning home. During your recovery, which may take days, weeks or even months, you may need help with daily tasks such as cooking and showering. Make sure you have family and/or friends available to help you during this time. If you do not have help available, talk to your doctor about local support services or staying at a rehabilitation centre after surgery.
- You may be required to attend an assessment at the hospital before your surgery. This is a good chance for you to ask questions about your surgery and recovery. Also you may be able to talk to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist about any equipment you may need, such as crutches and handrails in the shower.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Start an exercise program. People with greater fitness and muscle strength usually recover more quickly from surgery. If you have severe pain, you may find water exercise more comfortable. See a physiotherapist for hydrotherapy or contact us to find out more about our warm water exercise classes.
- You will probably need to follow a physiotherapy or exercise program after surgery. Be ready for several weeks or even months of exercise. Remember, the amount of effort you put into your program can make a big difference in how well you recover.
Other Treatment Options If You Struggle With Finding A Rheumatologist
There has been a shortage of rheumatologists in America as well as many other developed countries for the last decade, and its likely to get worse before it gets better, says Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida, and medical advisor to CreakyJoints, an advocacy, education, and support group for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. But that doesnt mean that you cant get good treatment from your primary care physician if thats what your situation requires. The advancement in the medical communitys understanding about the causes and the treatments of arthritic conditions, as well as the evolution of telemedicine, has allowed primary care physicians to diagnose and treat most common forms of arthritis, says Ginsberg.
Dr. Domingues also thinks there could be a positive future for telehealth, which is when patients receive health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.
It will never replace an in-person doctor, but it may be an option for the future. And the American College of Rheumatology has good support groups. CreakyJoints also has forums and resources that should be explored, says Domingues.
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How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It usually affects the lower back and develops through wear and tear. As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist your back. Past back injuries may also contribute to the development of degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joints between the vertebrae. It is also known as facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome and facet disease. In some cases, degeneration of the spinal discs may contribute to facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.
When these degenerative changes occur in the neck, this condition is called cervical spondylosis. Arthritis in the neck doesnt always cause pain, and many people have no noticeable symptoms.
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Education And Training Requirements
According to the American College of Rheumatology , before a rheumatologist can start treating patients, they must fulfill the following education and training requirements:
- graduate from a medical school
- complete a residency program
- participate in a rheumatology fellowship
After completing a rheumatology fellowship program, they must pass a board examination and receive a certificate to practice rheumatology. They will need to retake this exam every 10 years to maintain their certification.
Rheumatologists must also participate in continuing education courses throughout their career.
A rheumatologist can choose to treat specific rheumatic conditions or narrow their focus to a particular area, or subspecialty, within rheumatology.
Subspecialties in the field of rheumatology
Rheumatologists perform examinations and procedures that help them diagnose and treat rheumatic conditions.
These procedures include:
The Benefits Of Involving Your Doctor
Based on your condition, you and your doctors can develop a joint treatment plan to minimize your symptoms, help you preserve joint function, and improve your quality of life by enabling you tostay as active as possible, says Dr. Brown.
When the signs of osteoarthritis begin to limit your daily activities, its time to take action and call your doctor.
And staying active provides you at least two additional benefits:
- Extra pounds raise your risk for serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Extra pounds also add stress on weight-bearing joints and contribute to arthritis.
- Physical activity strengthens your muscles and helps you maintain better balance. The Arthritis Foundation reports that people with osteoarthritis have as much as a 30 percent higher risk of falling and a 20 percent greater risk of fractures. Seeking treatment for osteoarthritis can help you stay on your feet.
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Signs That You Need Specialist Care
Arthritis can often be managed under the care of a general physician. However, as the disease advances, the tools needed to properly manage the disease may beyond the scope of your healthcare providers. With ongoing advances in our understanding of arthritis, a primary care doctor is not always able to keep up with new procedures, protocols, and medications.
In such cases, it may be time to bring a new member into your healthcare team. Chief among these is a rheumatologist who specializes in osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis and related disease.
Whether or not you need a specialist depends on the stage of your disease and how typical your case may be. The following insights should help you decide.
Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems
Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.
Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.
Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.
A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.
Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
What Does An Orthopedist Do
Orthopedists handle the disorders, injuries, prevention, treatment, and repair of the skeletal system and its related joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of bone and joint disease. They use an array of testing modalities to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
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What Are The Main Types Of Spondyloarthritis
There are several types of arthritis that are grouped together, under the name spondyloarthritis. These include:
- ankylosing spondylitis: causes inflammation of the joints in the spine.
- psoriatic arthritis: related to the skin condition psoriasis.
- reactive arthritis: develops in response to an infection.
- enteropathic arthritis: related to inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease. About one in 10 people with an inflammatory bowel disease develop this type of arthritis
- undifferentiated spondyloarthritis: a form of spondyloarthritis that does not fit into any of the above four categories.
What Other Symptoms Do You Have
When deciding between an orthopedic surgeon and a rheumatologist, you should also consider what other symptoms you are experiencing.
Rheumatoid diseases are usually accompanied by secondary symptoms in addition to your musculoskeletal pain. You should audit your body and consider whether any of the following are present:
- Areas of the body being overly warm
- Skin conditions
- Swelling in areas without injury
These symptoms may indicate that your musculoskeletal pain is related to a further underlying condition, such as rheumatoid disease.
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Can Lumbar Arthritis Be Prevented
Your age, family history, and gender can all contribute to arthritis development. Although these factors are outside of your control, there are certain things that you can do to limit the pressure on your vertebrae. Reduced pressure may prevent flares of lumbar arthritis or other symptoms.
To reduce your risk of flare-ups:
Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put unnecessary stress on your joints.
Opt for low-impact exercise. Stretching, yoga, and swimming can all relieve pressure on your back.
Move with care. When dealing with heavy objects, be sure to lift with your knees and not with your back.
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How Sciatica Is Treated
At-home treatment for sciatica consists of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, icing and/or applying heat to the afflicted area, and some patience. For many people, that is enough to help them heal within a few weeks.
If your pain is bad enough that youve sought professional help, however, you likely need extra help. Treatment options for sciatica include:
This is the most common and generally most effective treatment for sciatica, says Dr. Huffstutter. The main goal is to take pressure off the sciatic nerve by strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles. Physical therapy can be invaluable its really hard to learn how to do the right exercise without it, he says.
Epidural steroid injections
Physical therapy is very helpful, but sometimes the pain is too severe, and the patient feels they cant do it, says Dr. Barsoum. In that case, the first step might be to inject inflammation-reducing medication directly into the epidural space that surrounds the nerves in the spine.
Your doctor might suggest using anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or even a narcotic medication if the pain is very severe. These drugs can make you feel a lot better and give your body a chance to heal.
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Are There Other Ways To Diagnose Arthritis
Examination of your joints by your doctor is the first, and one of the most important, ways of diagnosing arthritis. Your doctor will use blood tests to help confirm what they find on examination and from listening to your symptoms. Your doctor may also use a variety of other tests to help diagnose arthritis, including testing other body fluids and x-rays and scans . However it is possible to make a diagnosis of arthritis without any blood tests or imaging.
What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
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What Is Arthritis Doctor Called
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Joint Pain From Orthopedic Injuries
Traumatic orthopedic injuries can leave a lasting impression both on your psyche and on your joints. What most people dont realize, however, is that even minor orthopedic injuries can result in lingering joint pain.
Thats because joints are more than just bones and cartilage they are also made up of tendons, ligaments, muscles and small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae that also help cushion bones.
Whether youve suffered a traumatic injury in the past, have an overuse injury or think you tweaked something, your joint pain could be caused by an injury to anyone or more components in your joint. Two common orthopedic conditions that cause joint pain are bursitis and tendinitis.
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Facet Joints Are Synovial Joints
Health professionals classify facet joints as synovial joints. A delicate membrane, called a synovial membrane, encapsulates each facet joint. The membrane produces a viscous, slippery fluid, called synovial fluid that lubricates the joint.
Examples of other synovial joints include shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, and knuckles. All synovial joints are susceptible to osteoarthritis.
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
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