An orthopedic doctor treats musculoskeletal conditions. Musculoskeletal refers to bones, ligaments and tendons; therefore an orthopedic doctor treats an injury or condition affecting ligaments, tendons or bones. It is feasible that an orthopedic doctor can treat nearly every area of the body, since there are few areas where ligaments, tendons and certainly bones aren’t located.
There are general orthopedists and those who specialize in specific areas and conditions. The variety of conditions that orthopedic doctors treat is staggering. It’s impossible to list them all, but a few of the common areas and not so common are listed below.
Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, which is located in the feet and is the largest ligament in the body. The plantar fascia connects the lower part of the foot/heel to the top part of the foot/toes. When the plantar fascia, supporting the arch of the foot is strained, the result is plantar fasciitis. It is characterized by pain stiffness and swelling and is one of the most common ailments that orthopedists treat.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome results when the long nerve in the arm is strained. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure on the nerve, which is as long as the arm and runs through a tunnel in the wrist, called the carpal tunnel. Pressure on the median nerve may be caused by repetitive motion. The carpel tunnel becomes inflamed causing pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome has also been connected to other health conditions: obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism and even pregnancy. Carpal tunnel comes from the repetitive use of the carpal tunnel, however, orthopedists treat any variety of repetitive use injuries, to include rotator cuff injuries and hip flexor tears.
Claw Toe, also referred to as claw foot, is when the foot or toes take on a claw-like appearance. Claw toe/foot might appear later in life, but the condition can also form as a congenital defect. Clawfoot can cause a muscle imbalance and other foot abnormalities. An orthopedic doctor may suggest surgery for very serious cases. Otherwise, orthotic shoes and devices like metatarsal bars and padded inserts may be used. The doctor may also order physical therapy.
Brachial Plexus is a group of nerves that are located in the neck and spinal cord area. The brachial plexus runs down into the chest, shoulders, arms and hands. Without the brachial plexus it would be impossible to raise your arms or use your hands, since the brachial plexus controls motion in the wrists, hands and arms.
When the brachial plexus is injured, having stretched too far or if the bundle of nerves is cut, it will result in loss of function that depending on the severity of the injury, may include: loss of feeling in the hands or arm, loss of control in the wrist, hand or arm. An orthopedic doctor will use imaging to diagnose brachial plexus palsy, which can also occur in infants when the nerves are stretched during a difficult birth.
Spinal Stenosis is a condition that primarily affects the lower back and is defined as a space narrowing in the spine. The narrowing causes pressure to be placed on the nerves that run through the back/spine. Most often, spinal stenosis is a result of osteoarthritis.
Depending on the severity of the condition, surgery may be warranted.
There are two types of stenosis. Cervical stenosis occurs in the area of the spine that is located in the neck. Lumbar stenosis takes place in the lower part of the back.
These are only a few conditions that orthopedic doctors will treat. If you have a musculoskeletal injury or suspect that symptoms are musculoskeletal related, then don’t hesitate to contact Watauga Orthopedics to schedule an appointment.