Patients often visit the best orthopedic surgeons in Orange County when dealing with a variety of bone, joint, and muscle issues. These specialists have a solid understanding of both common and not-so-common conditions that can affect the body’s musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic surgeon can help patients:
- Receive an accurate diagnosis
- Recommend non-surgical treatments or surgery
- Present a personalized recovery and rehab plan
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Orthopedic surgeons perform many different diagnostic tests to determine the source of a patient’s bone, joint, or soft tissue condition or the extent of an injury. While most people are familiar with blood tests, X-rays, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), and computed tomography (CT) scans as diagnostic tools, there are other tests orthopedic surgeons can use to further determine what’s going on within the body’s musculoskeletal system.
For unexplained joint pain, an arthrography may be performed. During the diagnostic procedure, a contrast iodine solution is injected into the affected area to provide a detailed look at all the structures that make up a joint. Patients are often asked to move the affected joint during the test so X-ray images can be taken to further narrow down a source of discomfort. Orthopedists may also diagnosis a patient’s condition with:
- Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometries (osteoporosis test)
- Electromyographies (muscle activity test)
- Flexibility or range-of-motion tests
Since orthopedic surgeons treat conditions ranging from finger and toe abnormalities and fractures and back pain to knee injuries and muscular dystrophy, treatment options are fairly diverse. Some situations, such as torn ligaments or broken bones, require surgery to repair damage. Conditions such as sciatica often respond well to non-surgical remedies once the source of nerve pressure has been accurately identified.
For many patients seeking treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, relief often involves a combination of treatments. This often includes medications to control inflammation and ease pain, identifying likely pain triggers, and physical therapy to strengthen bones and supporting muscle groups. A growing list of surgical options for orthopedic conditions are now performed with minimally invasive techniques using smaller incisions and special instruments.
Orthopedic surgeons routinely provide a fresh look at a patient’s condition if prior treatments aren’t effective. In some instances, the reason is because things have changed internally since the initial diagnosis was made. Patients may also seek a reassessment of their condition if they’ve been increasingly dependent on pain medications and remedies such as spinal injections to manage their discomfort.
With pain medications, in particular, precautions need to be taken to avoid dependence and other unintended side effects. For this reason, orthopedists typically review a patient’s overall medication routine to determine if any adjustments need to be made. Patients may experience better results with existing non-surgical treatments once an updated or accurate diagnosis has been made.
Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can take anywhere from six months to a year to fully heal or recovery from surgery, depending on the specific procedure that was performed. Recovery is more involved with something like traditional fusion surgery or repair of a torn ACL. Orthopedic surgeons provide patients with detailed instructions after surgery is performed, including directions on how to change dressing and take prescribed medications. Patients are also given guidelines on what types of activities can safely be performed while the body heals and recovers. An orthopedic surgeon’s role in the recovery process extends to recommending muscle strengthening exercises and other therapeutic techniques.
Preventing further discomfort or re-injury for patients is a top priority of orthopedic surgeons. Regular low-impact aerobic activities such as walking and swimming may be recommended for back pain patients while taking the time to do a proper warm-up can help minimize the risk of sports-related injuries. Such suggestions are meant to encourage a productive recovery for patients who’ve had surgery and prevent further issues for patients who reach a point where their discomfort is under control. Preventative suggestions may also include:
- Eating more nutrient-rich foods
- Bending forward with hips and knees when lifting something
- Keeping conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure under control
The best orthopedic surgeons in Orange County consistently focus on patient-centered care that includes encouraging questions and clearly presenting all available options. It’s important for patients to understand that visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t necessarily mean surgery is in the cards. What it does mean is access to a greater range of diagnostic resources and specialized knowledge of bone and joint pain and other musculoskeletal conditions.