An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical methods to treat their patients.

Who Can Visit an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic surgeons generally treat patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. However, some orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating certain age groups. For example, pediatric orthopedic surgeons focus on treating children, while geriatric orthopedic surgeons focus on treating older adults.

If you’re experiencing pain or have received a serious injury, you’ll usually meet with either your primary care physician or be seen at an Urgent Care or Emergency Department before seeking an orthopedic surgeon. They can help diagnose the problem and determine whether it will be able to heal on its own or whether you’ll need help with medications, injections, therapy or surgery.

Conditions Treated by Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons treat a wide variety of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. Some common conditions that orthopedic surgeons treat include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Ligament and tendon tears
  • Osteoporosis
  • Scoliosis

Orthopedic surgeons may also treat patients who have had joint replacement surgery or spinal fusion surgery, and may also be involved in preventive care, such as advising patients on how to reduce their risk of developing musculoskeletal problems.

Types of Orthopedic Surgeons

There are several different types of orthopedic surgeons. Some specialize in treating certain age groups, while others specialize in treating certain conditions.

  • Pediatric orthopedic surgeons treat children
  • Shoulder and elbow surgeon treats the shoulder and elbow
  • Rheumatologists treat patients with arthritis
  • Neurosurgeons treat patients with spinal problems 
  • Sports medicine physicians treat patients with sports injuries

How to Choose an Orthopedic Surgeon

If you think you may need to see an orthopedic surgeon, your primary care physician can help you decide whether you need to see a specialist and recommend surgery. When choosing an orthopedic surgeon, it is important to consider:

  • The type of surgeon you need (pediatric, geriatric, etc.)
  • The specialty of the surgeon (arthritis, spinal problems, sports medicine, etc.)
  • The location of the surgeon
  • The surgeon’s credentials and experience
  • Your insurance coverage

You can also ask family and friends for recommendations. Once you have chosen an orthopedic surgeon, you will need to make an appointment for a consultation.

What to Expect During Your Visit

During your visit, the surgeon will ask about your medical history and symptoms. He or she will then conduct a physical examination. In some cases, the orthopedic surgeon may order X-rays or other imaging tests to further evaluate your condition.

After the examination, the orthopedic surgeon will discuss treatment options with you. These may include medication, physical therapy, or surgery. The surgeon will also explain the risks and benefits of each treatment option.

You and the surgeon will then decide on a treatment plan that is best for you.

How Specialists at Utah Shoulder Can Help

If you have a problem with any part of your musculoskeletal system, your primary care doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation and treatment. Dr. M. Daniel Hatch specializes in the treatment of shoulder and elbow problems and help you manage all injuries in this area of the body.  If you need treatment of other areas of the body, he can help get you in contact with one of his partners.

If you think you may need to see an orthopedic surgeon, or if you have any questions about your condition, please call Dr. M. Daniel Hatch to schedule an appointment.