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Orthopedic FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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 orthopedic surgeons treat?

The orthopedic surgeons at Atrius Health 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 disks, sciatica, low back pain, and scoliosis
  • arthritis and osteoporosis
  • knock knees, bow legs, bunions, and hammer toes
  • bone tumors, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
  • club foot and unequal leg length
  • abnormalities of the fingers and toes and other growth abnormalities

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 kind of training does an orthopedic surgeon have?

Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors with extensive training in the proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), orthopedic surgeons complete up to 14 years of formal education:

  • Four years of study in a college or university
  • Four years of study in medical school
  • Five years of study in orthopedic residency at a major medical center
  • One optional year of specialized education

Which hospitals are you affiliated with?

Atrius Health’s orthopedic surgeons are affiliated with the world-renowned New England Baptist Hospital, a highly-regarded hospital which performs more complex joint and spine procedures than any other hospital in Massachusetts and has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction.

What should I do to prepare for Orthopedic Surgery?

  • Do not eat after midnight before the surgery
  • Arrange to have someone pick you up after surgery
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • It is best to leave unneeded items (rings, watches, cell phones etc) at home
  • It is a good to make sure your home is ready for your return
    • A few pre-made meals can really help to ease the transition back after the surgery
    • Do you have stairs at home? Make sure you practice with the crutches for safety.
    • Do you need to be driven anywhere? If so, it’s a good idea to pre-arrange these rides.

More specific information will be given to you based upon your surgery. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your orthopedic surgery team.

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.