An orthopedic surgeon is a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the bones and joints. The adult human body is composed of 206 bones, each with its own purpose and function. The bones in our legs allow us to stand, walk, kick, and jump. The bones in our fingers grasp, extend, and point. The bones throughout our bodies support us and allow us to move. However, injury or disease can cause damage to our bones, limiting mobility. Orthopedic surgeons operate on damaged and diseased bones, helping to repair damage and restore movement.
Common Procedures Performed by Orthopedic Surgeons
Most people think of orthopedic surgeons as “bone doctors.” Although bones are a big part of their work, orthopedic surgeons treat the whole skeleton. This includes the bones as well as joints, tendons, and ligaments. Orthopedic surgeons handle a wide range of afflictions that affect the skeleton. At Weiss Memorial Hospital, our doctors examine many factors that cause bone or joint pain. We work with our patients to find the right approach and procedure to help them live a happy, pain-free life. Here are a few examples of common procedures orthopedic surgeons perform:
As we age, our hips can begin to show signs of wear and tear. Diseases like osteoarthritis can damage the cartilage protecting the joints and make movement painful. Injuries that result in fractures can also cause pain. When the pain begins to interfere with your quality of life and does not respond to other forms of treatment, your doctor may recommend a total hip replacement.
A total hip replacement involves replacing the damaged part of the hip with a prosthetic. After making an incision above the joint, the doctor will remove the femoral head (the ball of the joint) and replace it with a metal or ceramic ball. They will then remove the damaged cartilage from the joint’s socket and replace it with a metal socket. A spacer will then be placed between the ball and socket to allow the joint to move smoothly.
The field of orthopedic surgery is advancing constantly, leading to improved patient outcomes after total hip replacements. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, hip replacements are one of the most successful surgical procedures performed.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury. It is common among office workers and people in skilled trades. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when pressure is put on the median nerve at the wrist. When a person develops carpal tunnel syndrome, they will often experience pain, numbness, and tingling in their hand and wrist. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may interfere with a person's ability to work or do everyday tasks like drive and cook.
If you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will likely recommend non-invasive treatments such as physical therapy and a wrist brace. If this is ineffective, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. There are two types of surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome: open surgery and endoscopic surgery. During both operations, the surgeon will cut the transverse carpal ligament to alleviate the pressure and eliminate your pain.
Tendons connect your muscles to your bones. They support your bones and help you move. When you put too much stress on your bones, the tendons can tear or become damaged. Not only is this painful, but it can also have a significant effect on your mobility.
One of the most common locations for tendon damage is the biceps. Tears can occur where the biceps connect to the elbow or shoulder. Other common locations for tendon damage are the knees, fingers, and ankles.
The goal of a surgical procedure is to eliminate pain and increase your range of motion. During the surgery, the doctor will repair the tear by suturing the damaged parts back together. In some cases, a graft may be necessary. Tendon repair is usually done endoscopically and is often accompanied by physical therapy to promote a healthy range of motion.
The spine is composed of 33 individual vertebrae. These bones support your body and protect the spinal cord. When the vertebrae become damaged or slip out of place, you may experience chronic pain and loss of mobility. There are two main reasons for spinal fusion surgery: to eliminate pain or to increase stability. Your doctor may recommend spinal fusion surgery after trying less invasive treatments.
During the procedure, the doctor will fuse two vertebrae together. This is done by taking a piece of bone from another part of the body and putting it between the vertebrae. Generally, a small piece of bone is used, but a larger piece may be necessary if the goal is to immediately increase stability. In some cases, a rod or screws may be used to add extra support. Common ailments that require spinal fusion include arthritis, sciatica, or degenerative disc disease.
An epidural block is a non-surgical procedure used to reduce or eliminate pain. It is often used after trying other treatments like physical therapy and medication but before surgical intervention. During the procedure, the doctor will insert a needle into the epidural space (the outer layer of the spinal cord). They will then release medication to reduce inflammation to the surrounding area.
The results of an epidural injection vary. Many patients find relief within a few days of the procedure. The effects of the injection may be temporary or permanent. If the pain returns, your doctor may recommend another round of treatment.
How We Can Help
The Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss is a leader in bone and joint care. Weiss Memorial Hospital was the first in the Chicago area to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hip and Knee Joint Replacements.
Our team uses the latest techniques to help our patients reduce pain and regain movement. If you suffer from bone or joint pain, an evaluation can help you understand the source of your pain. If your doctor recommends a surgical procedure, we'll help you make the choice that is right for you. Contact the Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss more information or to schedule an appointment.