Not to brag (too much), but our bodies are— in a word—incredible. What else can you count on to carry you around for some 80- or 90-odd years? But just like a trusted vehicle, our bodies need replacement parts and patching up every now and again. For those oops moments, orthopedic clinics are at the ready with specialists for everything from feet and hands to knees, hips, and spines.
Not Solely Surgery
Despite orthopedics’ reputation for surgery-only care, nonsurgical treatments are a first course of action for most conditions, says Dr. Robert Anderson, hand surgeon and president of Summit Orthopedics. “We have a robust regenerative medicine group of doctors who use advanced technologies and techniques, including stem cell treatments,” he says, “our goal being to make surgery one of the last options and not always the first or only option.”
Road Map for Recovery
Both avenues of orthopedic care—physician referral or straight to an ortho clinic— lead to the same destination. “Generally, if it is a more long-standing or chronic issue, checking with a primary care provider who you know and trust can be a great place to start,” says Dr. Robby Bershow, an orthopedic specialist at Allina Health.
For those slips and falls, sports injuries, and other moments when you think you might need orthopedic care, clinics have developed orthopedic urgent care.
State of Emergency
We’ve all had our fair share of midafternoon (or late-night) urgent care visits. But how do we know if we should go to orthopedic urgent care or the emergency room?
“Complex situations like fractures where the skin has been breached or there is a large soft tissue component” necessitate an emergency room visit, Anderson says. “Also, large joint dislocations, like shoulders or hips, almost always require hospital assistance.” But, if you’re playing eenie-meenie, give your ortho clinic a call and they can help point you in the right direction.
For soccer-induced fractures, stretch-inflicted strains, and other exercise-related injuries, we wondered, will any orthopedic specialist do? Sports medicine orthopedic surgeons still deal in the orthopedic realm (the musculoskeletal system), but for athletes instead of the general population, says Dr. Kelechi Okoroha, an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. “Conditions treated usually involve injury to muscle, tendons, or ligaments, which can be subsequently repaired or reconstructed, when necessary.”
A far majority of orthopedic care is nonsurgical.
”Most people are surprised that we advocate for conservative management of even complex problems. Surgery is rarely the only option. We pride ourselves in believing we can get to a shared decision on the best treatment options—surprisingly, it’s not surgical the majority of the time.” —Dr. Robert Anderson, Summit Orthopedics
Did anyone else noticed the you-size dent in the sofa becoming more pronounced over the last year? With our main hobby of staying home and the nippy winter temps discouraging any kind of movement, our bodies have become “deconditioned,” Bershow says. This is a result of not keeping up with dedicated exercise and the decrease in general daily life activity since the beginning of the pandemic.
With these factors colliding, orthopedic clinics are seeing a rise in overuse (or just use) injuries. “As [people] have started to return to activity,” Bershow says, “sometimes their bodies are not used to the loads or demands that are being placed on them, and that can be a recipe for overuse injuries. This can mean muscle strains, joint tightness, [and] tendinitis or tendinosis injuries in really any body part, as well as exacerbation of underlying osteoarthritis in the knees, hips, shoulders, and spine.”
While a jump in exercise is good, it can lead to problems from hopping in too quickly—oh, the irony. Summit’s orthopedic clinics are seeing more patients in the over-40 group, Anderson says
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