Orthopedic surgery is an operation performed by a medical specialist such as an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon, who is trained to assess and treat problems that develop in the bones, joints and ligaments of the human body.
Orthopedic surgery addresses and attempts to correct problems that arise in the skeleton and its attachments, the ligaments and tendons. It may also include some problems of the nervous system, such as those that arise from injury of the spine. These problems can occur at birth, through injury, or as the result of aging. They may be acute, as in accident or injury, or chronic, as in many problems related to aging.
Many orthopedic surgeons maintain a general practice, while some specialize in one particular aspect of orthopedics such as hand surgery, joint replacements or disorders of the spine. Orthopedists treat both acute and chronic disorders. Some orthopedic surgeons specialize in trauma medicine and can be found in emergency rooms and trauma centers, treating injuries. Others find their work overlapping with plastic surgeons, geriatric specialists, pediatricians or podiatrists (foot care specialists). A rapidly growing area of orthopedics is sports medicine, and many sports medicine doctors are board certified in orthopedic surgery.
The range of treatments provided by orthopedists is extensive. They include procedures such as traction, amputation, hand reconstruction, spinal fusion and joint replacements. They also treat strains and sprains, broken bones and dislocations. Some specific procedures performed by orthopedic surgeons are total joint replacement, arthroscopic surgery, bone grafting, fracture repair and traction.