What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

By Published On: December 24, 2020Last Updated: July 17, 2021872 words4.4 min read
What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?2021-07-17T12:34:10-10:00

An orthopedic surgeon, or “bone doctor” is a type of doctor that specializes in treating diseases and injuries of the bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Although they are often sought after for operations, orthopedic surgeons do more than just operate. They can set bones with casts, recommend conservative treatment, including prosthetics and physical therapy, and help patients prevent injuries.

Knee Arthroscopy

Orthopaedic vs. Orthopedic Spelling

One of the first sources of confusion about the specialty is the spelling. Some people spell the word ‘orthopaedic’ while others spell it ‘orthopedic’. Both are correct and are derived from Greek. Orthos means straight and paidion means child. This suggests that orthopedic surgery began by specializing in correcting injuries or malformation of bones in children.

A French professor, Nicholas Andry, coined the word orthopédie in 1741. The English translated orthopédie to Orthopædia, or orthopaedic. Orthopedic is the Americanized version of orthopaedic, although many physicians in the United States use both spellings interchangeably.

History of Orthopedic Surgery

Some historians trace the origins of orthopedic surgery all the way to primitive human ancestors. Historians found evidence that primitive humans set bones and tried to repair injuries. Historians then trace the practices to the Egyptians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans. The Greeks and the Romans shaped the practice into a more orderly, systematic form of medicine. They began studying anatomy and technique with more rigor than their predecessors. Native Hawaiians have their own form of medicine incorporating many aspects of orthopedic medicine.

Orthopedic Surgeon Training

In the US, orthopedic surgeons must first attend college and then medical school. Medical school takes 4 years to complete. After medical school, the new doctors attend residency. Residency programs train the new doctors in the specialty of their choosing under the guidance of more experienced doctors. Common specialties include family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, etc. All doctors must attend residency in order to practice medicine, but the length of residencies differs by specialty. Orthopedic surgery is a competitive specialty with a residency that lasts 5 years. After they complete their residency, orthopedic surgeons must pass all licensing and board exams in order to practice as a surgeon. While surgeons can choose to practice directly out of residency, some may choose to complete a fellowship in order to learn even more about a specific area of interest in orthopedic surgery.

What to Look for in An Orthopedic Surgeon

If you have specific health concerns or complicated orthopedic history, you may want to choose an orthopedic surgeon who has completed a fellowship in that area.

While a good orthopedic surgeon is someone who is technically skilled, they should also know how to listen to patients. A surgeon should present the options to you, answer any questions you have, and guide you to the best solution based on your health goals.

Tips on Finding an Orthopedic Surgeon

  1. Credentials: Research your orthopedic surgeon’s credentials including fellowship training and board-certification.  Make sure your surgeon has achieved appropriate education for your orthopedic needs.
  2. Experience: Discuss with your orthopedic surgeon their experience with the particular surgery
  3. Hospital Quality: Make sure that you are comfortable at the hospital where you may have your operation. Check the US News site for hospital ratings.
  4. Communication: Some patients enjoy a friendly doctor, others are looking for a more paternalistic approach.
  5. Referral: Get a referral from your primary care physician
  6. Friends and Family: Talk with others you know and find out their experience with their surgeon.
  7. Website: Check out your doctor’s website, get a feel for how they treat patients.
  8. Reviews: Research other’s experiences by looking at their reviews online
  9. Insurance: Not all doctors will take your insurance. Check before making your appointment
  10. Comfort: If you’re not comfortable with your orthopedic surgeon, look elsewhere.
  11. Consult: Set up a consult. See if you like what they have to say.
  12. Second Opinion: Don’t like what you hear? Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion!

Summary

An orthopedic surgeon is a specialized doctor who has gone through many years of training and certification levels to help patients manage issues with bones, joints, and connective tissue. While they are experts in surgical techniques, they do not always recommend surgery to all patients. Rather, they recommend conservative treatments, physical therapy, and help patients prevent injury and joint pain when appropriate. When you have a bad injury or nonoperative treatments are not working, orthopedic surgeons have the skills necessary to help you. Talk to your bone doctor, Dr. Morton about your orthopedic concerns today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the best hospital to have orthopedic surgery in Hawaii?2021-02-28T20:02:19-10:00

The Queen’s Medical Center is ranked #1 in Hawaii by the USNews and high performing at both Hip and Knee replacements.

How do I choose a good Orthopedic Surgeon?2021-02-28T19:59:36-10:00
  1. Credentials: Research your orthopedic surgeon’s credentials. Make sure your surgeon has achieved appropriate education for your orthopedic needs.
  2. Experience: Discuss with your orthopedic surgeon their experience with the particular surgery
  3. Hospital Quality: Make sure that you are comfortable at the hospital where you may have your operation. Check the US News site for hospital ratings.
  4. Communication: Some patients enjoy a friendly doctor, others are looking for a more paternalistic approach.
  5. Reviews: Research other’s experiences by looking at their reviews online
  6. Insurance: Not all doctors will take your insurance. Check before making your appointment
  7. Comfort: If you’re not comfortable with your orthopedic surgeon, look elsewhere.
How do I pick the best/top orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii?2021-02-28T20:17:56-10:00

Dr. Paul Norio Morton is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon that practices on Oahu and the Big Island. He treats a broad range of orthopedic conditions including arthritis, sports injuries, hip and knee replacements, trauma, and robotic joint arthroplasty. He believes in treating his patients with a holistic approach – incorporating patient’s desires and expectations into the treatment of their musculoskeletal problems.

How do I pick the best hip surgeon in Hawaii?2021-02-28T20:17:30-10:00

You want an orthopedic surgeon who is specialized in joint replacement, joint preservation, sports injuries, and salvage procedures. You should look for someone who is an expert in minimally-invasive techniques, including the Direct Anterior Approach to hip replacement, and is comfortable in modern techniques such as partial knee replacements and robotic-assisted joint replacements. Dr. Morton can provide you with excellent services as a hip surgeon.

How do I pick the best knee surgeon in Hawaii?2021-02-28T20:17:25-10:00

You want an orthopedic surgeon who is specialized in joint replacement, joint preservation, sports injuries, and salvage procedures. You should look for someone who is an expert in minimally-invasive techniques, including the Direct Anterior Approach to hip replacement, and is comfortable in modern techniques such as partial knee replacements and robotic-assisted joint replacements. Dr. Morton can provide you with excellent services as a knee surgeon.

What’s the difference between Orthopaedic and Orthopedic?2021-02-28T20:14:02-10:00

Orthopaedic and orthopedic are words that have the same meaning, referring to the same medical specialty. Orthopaedics is the original British word. Orthopedics is the Americanized, more common version. Professional organizations tend to use British spelling, while most physicians in the US use them equally. You can use them interchangeably.

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Meet Dr. Paul Norio Morton

Dr. Paul Norio Morton, MD is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon in hip and knee surgery, specializing in robotic joint replacements, complex joint reconstruction, sports injuries, and trauma. Reach out to him to learn more about treatment options for your problem.