ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY (commonly spelled “Orthopaedic,” particularly in academia) is the field of surgery dealing with the surgical treatment of disease and injury of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic Surgeons complete a five year residency program often followed by subspecialization in a specific branch of Orthopedic Surgery, such as Hand Surgery, Total Joint Reconstruction (i.e. arthroplasty), Pediatric Orthopedics, Foot and Ankle Surgery, Spine Surgery, Surgical Sports Medicine, or Trauma. Board certification in Orthopedic Surgery is by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Common procedures in Orthopedic Surgery include arthroscopic surgery upon the knee and shoulder, joint replacement surgery (predominantly upon the hip and knee), carpal tunnel release, and fixation of various fractures most often involving the wrist, humerus, clavicle, tibia, and hip.
Although Orthopedic Surgeons treat musculoskeletal sports-related injuries that require surgery, Sports Medicine Physicians specialize in the non-operative management of sports-related injuries and in the treatment of sports conditions beyond the musculoskeletal system. Common conditions related to Sports Medicine include concussions, fatigue, muscle strains, and exercise-induced asthma.
Litigation in Orthopedic Surgery typically stems from poor surgical outcomes resulting in loss of function. This may occur as a result of surgical technique, infection, or other complicating factors. Delayed treatment of “compartment syndrome” (a limb-threatening elevation in extremity pressure) is another area of risk for practicing Orthopedists.