The human body is a complex machine that successfully operates only when all the systems that power it are working in harmony. One of the most amazing systems within the human body is the musculoskeletal system. This system is responsible for every movement an individual makes from raising an arm to more complex tasks like running at a full sprint, jumping, and landing successfully back on our feet. When something goes wrong with the musculoskeletal system, an individual’s range of motion or ability to move at all can be severely curtailed. When this happens individuals need to seek out orthopaedic care.
The field of medicine known as orthopaedic care is concerned with preventing, recognizing, and treating injuries, diseases, and ailments that afflict the musculoskeletal system of the body. This system consists of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that enable a human being to lift an arm, through a ball, or run across the street. Orthopaedic care can be administered in both non-surgical and surgical manners to treat a wide range of ailments that afflict the musculoskeletal system. Some of the common problems orthopaedic care treats in an individual include:
- Musculoskeletal trauma
- Sports injuries
- Degenerative diseases
- Congenital disorder
Orthopaedic care is designed to a tackle a wide range of ailments that can affect the musculoskeletal system. As such, there are also a wide number of approaches to fixing the ailments that hamper an individual’s ability to move freely and experience a better quality of life. Some of the techniques used to treat musculoskeletal ailments through orthopaedic care include but are not limited to the following:
- Non-surgical procedures (deep tissue massage)
- Surgical procedures (such as ligament repair)
The development of orthopaedic care throughout the ages has often seen its greatest advances come on the fields of battle. During the Middle Ages field surgeons would use clothes dipped in horse blood to apply early splints to wound limbs. When the clothes dried, they would stiffen and provide support to broken or otherwise damaged limbs. Russian doctors in the 1950s and American field surgeons during the Vietnam War further developed external means of splinting and supporting fractured limbs. Modern science now allows orthopaedic care to fuse materials directly to fractured limbs to provide the ultimate support for proper realignment.
Orthopaedic care is not just about fractured bones though. This field of medicine also focuses heavily and caring for and repairing the tendons and ligaments that connect muscle to bone or provide stability for joints. Both invasive “open” surgeries can be performed to reattached torn tendons in joints or heal ligaments. Newer, less invasive arthroscopy was pioneered in the 1950s to allow doctors to operate on individuals with musculoskeletal issues without exposing their internal organs and systems to dangerous pathogens.
Diagnosing and treating injuries is not the sole focus of orthopaedic care either. Individuals born with congenital disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system, or those who develop degenerative diseases, can also seek orthopaedic care from a physician. These individuals have not suffered one injury that damaged their system; but instead an ailment of a more molecular nature is attacking and weakening their system. In the case of congenital disorders an individual is born with a deformation affecting the musculoskeletal system. Degenerative diseases on the other hand cause excess wear and tear on the body, at a faster than normal rate, and impair an individual’s ability to move about.
Surgeons specializing in orthopaedic care perform a wide variety of procedures designed to help individuals recover from injury or combat diseases. As of 2003 the most commonly performed orthopaedic procedures included some of the following:
- Knee arthroscopy and meniscectomy
- Shoulder arthroscopy and decompression
- Carpal tunnel release
- Repair of femoral neck fracture
- Repair of trochanteric fracture
- Debridement of skin/muscle/bone/fracture
- Hip replacement
- Shoulder arthroscopy/distal clavicle excision
- Repair of ankle fracture (fibula)
- Repair of femoral shaft fracture
Orthopaedic care is devoted to helping individuals who are facing ailments that are inhibiting their ability to enjoy a full range of motion and move through their life without physical pain. Thank to advances in orthopaedic care, athletes who once faced the end of their career as the result of a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament now have the opportunity to return to the sport they love with a new and stable knee ligament. Older individuals who have experienced advanced deterioration of a major joint such as the knee or hip can now have their entire knee or hip joint replaced in order to return to a life of mobility without pain.