Angie's LIST Guide to

Orthopedic doctors treat patients with pain in their bones, muscles, joints or ligaments. These specialized doctors and surgeons see patients of all ages for varying reasons and often concentrate on a particular part of the body, such as hips, knees or shoulders.


Orthopedic specialists can help improve the quality and use of bones, muscles or ligaments throughout the body.
Orthopedic specialists can help improve the quality and use of bones, muscles or ligaments throughout the body.

Orthopedic specialties

French physician Nicholas Andry coined the term orthopedics in 1741 as a union of the Greek words ortho (straight) and pedics (children). The term later applied to doctors specializing in the treatment of disabled children.

Today, orthopedic doctors treat injuries or issues of the spine and joints that often result from birth defects, injuries or aging. These physicians mainly attend to broken bones from sports injuries and other accidents and illnesses that affect the joints and bones, such as arthritis and osteoporosis and bone tumors.

Orthopedic doctors treat patients in many different settings, such as in hospitals and medical centers, private surgical centers, trauma centers and their own private practices. Many of these physicians specialize even further in areas of treatment or choose to work especially with children, aging patients or athletes. Others may work specifically with spinal disorders, plastic surgery, knee- and hip-joint analysis and replacement, foot injuries and hand surgery.

Physical therapists, a type of orthopedic specialist, treat a wider population of patients by helping strengthen the body's muscles that affect the joints. They offer information on proper exercises and supplement treatment with heat, ice, electrical stimulation and ultrasound. Many patients see physical therapists rather than undergo surgery.

Orthopedic surgeons

An growing number of orthopedic doctors are becoming surgeons because of the increase in sports injuries and the aging population. Doctors in other health care fields often consult with these surgeons as needed or work with them on a daily basis. These surgeons have their own private practice or are part of a smaller specialty group of doctors. Some are also medical school professors or researchers.

These doctors perform many different kinds of surgery, such as replacing knee or hip joints, resetting bones and treating soft tissue damage. Other specialists perform surgeries on the feet and ankles or correct damage to the spine.

Orthopedic surgeons also help patients by applying casts for broken bones and back braces on those with spinal injuries. They also treat patients who are in pain because of carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injury from work or sports. Frequently, they see patients who have long-term health conditions, such as cerebral palsy, arthritis or brittle bone disease.

Qualifications of orthopedic doctors

It takes about 13 years of hard work to become an orthopedic physician: an undergraduate degree in the sciences, such as biology or chemistry, medical school, a five-year residency in orthopedics and possibly a one-year fellowship in an area of specialization.

You should look for an orthopedic doctor as you would any other medical professional. Start by asking your primary care physician for referrals. With some insurance carriers, your coverage will require one. Read through the listing of orthopedic doctors in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. Verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals by consulting Angie's List. There, you'll also find member reviews and rankings. 

When you meet with the doctor, ask about his or her level of experience in that specialized area and the doctor's approach to treatment. You'll also get a feel for the doctor's bedside manner.

Preventative care is also an important criteria of any doctor, regardless of the medical field. Even for orthopedic injuries, taking preventative steps like losing weight or exercising will make a major difference in a patient's recovery and long-term health. A doctor who emphasizes these approaches cares that his or her patients are changing their lifestyle for the better.


Looking for an orthopedic surgeon for my ankle.

Looking for orthopedist @ Texas orthopedic Hospital in Houston,Texas. One that is familiar with total knee replacements for very active/still working mechanic.

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