An orthopedist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of medical conditions affecting the bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. A person in this field, also known as an orthopedic surgeon, works to diagnose and treat patients who have broken bones, torn ligaments, and tendons, among other injuries. Essentially, his job entails treating disorders and conditions affecting the body’s moving parts. A person working in this field might specialize in setting bones, correcting deformities, or treating people who have been injured.
While orthopedic doctors are best known for helping people with broken bones and treating people who need joints replaced or repaired, particularly in the knee and hip area, they are also trained to do a lot more. Doctors in this field can also help patients straighten their spines and treat those who have lost limbs with prosthetics. Some orthopedists work with patients who have deformed hands or feet, while others choose to specialize in sports-related injuries. Others may focus on treating tumors, infections, and degenerative diseases, while others may specialize in treating disabled and injured children.
An orthopedist typically diagnoses patients and treats them with a combination of medical and surgical techniques. He might collaborate closely with other doctors who refer patients to him, reviewing their records and discussing treatment options with them. A person working in this field may examine patients and order a variety of tests, including x-rays and other imaging procedures. He may also oversee a patient’s post-surgery care, meeting with them to assess their progress. An orthopedist may work in a private practice, a hospital, a surgical center, or a sports medicine clinic; he or she may also choose to become a college professor or devote his or her career to research rather than patient care.
A person who decides to pursue a career as an orthopedist typically has several years of training ahead of him. A person who wants to become an orthopedist usually goes to college for four years after high school and then completes four years of medical school training. Following medical school, an orthopedist typically completes a five-year residency program. When an orthopedist decides to specialize, his or her education can last even longer. An aspiring orthopedist may choose to pursue specialty training for an additional year.