General Orthopedic Care is the first step in reducing discomfort for any number of musculoskeletal issues.
The bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves that make up your body are designed to work fairly well together. The purpose of general orthopedic care is keep all of the structures that make up the musculoskeletal system functioning. It’s a process that can involve:
- Diagnosing a problem
- Treating a specific condition
- Offering advice on preventing injuries
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For most injuries, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is the first treatment attempt. If pain is continuing or getting worse, you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation, although surgery is rarely the preferred option for more conditions if other treatments are available. In order to determine the most appropriate treatment, however, an accurate diagnosis needs to be made, a goal often achieved by:
- Asking specific questions about when pain is experienced and what activities or actions seem to trigger it
- Conducting a detailed physical exam and a review of your medical history
- Doing images tests to view bones and soft tissues in detail (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasound)
- Performing an arthroscopy to view an affected joint to identify the source of pain
Most people just want to be able to get back to their regular activities without pain, so treatment is understandably a big part of general orthopedic care. While anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs are often part of treatment, efforts are often made to minimize dependence on some medications by recommending treatments such as hot and cold therapy and massage therapy.
If surgery is necessary, it may involve common orthopedic procedures involving soft tissue repair, correction of bone abnormalities or deformities, bone fracture repair, spine surgery that includes decompression to relieve nerve pressure or a fusion, or debridement to remove damaged tissues or bone fragments. Many procedures performed today are done with minimally invasive techniques with smaller incisions that may result in shorter recovery periods.
With rehabilitation, recommendations are made on types of physical therapy that will likely restore strength to muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support bones and joints and improve flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. Patients typically receive an individualized rehab plan that’s specific to their needs. For instance, some patients do better with water-based therapy since there is less stress on bones and muscles.
Prevention is an equally important of general orthopedic care. Bones, joints, and soft tissues need to have steady access to essential nutrients. This is why a visit to an orthopedist may include advice on how to safely incorporate regular exercise that includes stretching and aerobic activities into your regular routine along with suggestions on how to improve your diet. Prevention also includes:
- Making appropriate modifications to certain activities to take stress off of joints, bones, or muscles
- Being mindful of posture
- Wearing supportive shoes
- Getting sufficient sleep to allow tissues to naturally heal
- Paying attention to proper form and technique when working out or playing sports
If you do experience aches and pains that are more than just a minor inconvenience, see your doctor to determine if more specialized care is needed. Fortunately, there are many treatments available today, both non-surgical and surgical, that may provide much-appreciated relief and allow you to focus on the things that matter most to you without distracting pain.