FAQ: General Orthopedics
What is orthopedics?
Orthopedics (alternatively, orthopaedics) is a medical specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions, disorders, and injuries of the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
A doctor who specializes in this medical specialty is called an orthopedic (alternatively, orthopaedic) surgeon or orthopedist.
Please click here to learn more about orthopedic surgeons and their training and specialization.
What is arthritis?
The word arthritis literally means "joint inflammation." Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that damages the lining surrounding our joints while also destroying our bones, tissue, and joints over time.
Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that slowly damages the cartilage surrounding the ends of bones and is common in the hip, knee, and spine.
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is an inflammation or irritation of a bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac located around joints. Bursitis causes a reduction in or a loss of motion at the affected joint. Bursitis typically occurs in the heel, hip, knee, shoulder, and thumb.
What is cartilage?
Cartilage is a soft, rubbery, gel-like coating on the ends of bones, where they articulate, that protects joints and facilitates movement.
What is a ligament?
A ligament is an elastic band of tissue that connects bone to bone and provides stability to the joint.
What is a tendon?
A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
What is tendonitis?
Tendonitis, medically spelled tendinitis, is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Chronic strain, overuse or misuse of a tendon leading to a repetitive stress injury, or a serious acute injury can lead to a weakness, tear, or swelling of the tendon tissue, resulting in pain and stiffness near the tendon. Tendonitis usually occurs in the elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, thumb and wrist, but can occur in any tendon.
Do I use ice on my injury? Do I use heat on my injury?
The general rule of thumb is to use ice in the acute stage of an injury (within the first 24 – 48 hours) or whenever swelling is showing. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and swelling by decreasing blood flow to the area that is injured. The general guideline is to apply ice indirectly (not directly on the skin) for 20 minutes, remove the ice for at least 20 minutes, and repeat as necessary.
Heat is used to increase blood flow, which helps promote pain relief after inflammation and swelling subside. Heat is also used to assist in warming muscles up prior to exercise, any physical activity, or physical therapy.
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