What does orthopaedics involve?



Orthopaedic surgeons use implants like those visible throughout this model skeleton to fix or replace joints and bones.
The term ‘orthopaedics’ is derived from the Greek ortho (‘correct’, ‘straight’) and pais (child).
It was first used in 1741, when it most frequently applied to the care of crippled children, often with spine and limb deformities. Orthopaedics today involves the care of the musculoskeletal system of the human body.

The musculoskeletal system is responsible for every movement an individual makes, from raising an arm to more complex tasks like running, jumping, surfing or dancing. It involves bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves. When something goes wrong with the musculoskeletal system, an individual’s range of motion or ability to move can be impacted.

An orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor with extensive training in the diagnosis and surgical, as well as non-surgical, treatment of the musculoskeletal system.

Some of the common problems orthopaedic surgeons treat include:
  • Musculoskeletal trauma
  • Sports injuries
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Congenital disorders
While some orthopaedists practice general orthopaedics, many specialise in treating the foot and ankle, hand, shoulder and elbow, spine, hip or knee.

Others focus on a particular age group or area of orthopaedics, such as paediatrics, trauma, sports medicine, oncology, or the treatment of specific conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis or work-related injuries.