Did you know that more than 28 million Americans develop musculoskeletal problems each year? What’s more, it is estimated that as many as 126.6 million Americans (one in two adults) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition according to a report by the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative.
No matter how well you take care of yourself and how healthy you are, sooner or later you are likely to experience aches and pains in your muscles and joints. It might be the result of an injury, overuse of certain muscles, or even poor posture. Often, the pain will subside after a few days of rest, medication, or hot and cold compress use. So, what if it doesn’t simply go away or gets worse, becoming a chronic condition that occasionally flares up?
At the first sign of a medical problem, you’re likely to consult with your primary care physician (PCP). That’s understandable since your PCP serves as your first point of contact when it comes to healthcare and is a professional trained in internal medicine. Also, your PCP provides preventative care and long-term health maintenance and is capable of diagnosing symptoms of unknown origin.
However, while your primary care provider is familiar with the broader scope of your health, they may not have the expertise to treat certain conditions. For example, your primary care physician can only do so much for chronic pain related to your ankles, knees, hips shoulder, back, or any other joint or muscle. Consequently, if you are experiencing a health issue or injury that requires specialized care, your PCP will refer you to an orthopedic specialist.
However, if it’s a prompt, effective treatment that you’re looking for, you can save yourself time and money by going directly to an orthopedist.
What An Orthopedic Doctor Can Do For You
As an expert in injuries and diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage), an orthopedic doctor has the specialized training and experience it takes to diagnose, treat, and prevent issues such as:
- Overuse injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Degenerative conditions
- Much more
An orthopedic doctor can address any problem ranging from a simple sprained ankle to a complex surgical procedure like a total hip or shoulder replacement. They can help relieve and manage your condition, reduce pain and instability, and improve your range of motion and strength.
Most of the time, an orthopedic doctor will provide noninvasive treatments in the form of prescribing medication and/or physical therapy before recommending surgery. If these conservative measures fail to relieve your symptoms, a qualified orthopedic doctor can perform minimally invasive or more complex procedures such as injection therapy, arthroscopic surgery, and ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder replacement.
If you are experiencing symptoms indicating a musculoskeletal injury or chronic condition, consult with an orthopedic specialist to get diagnosed and treated by an expert. Here are some signs that you need to see an orthopedic doctor:
- You have a soft tissue injury that does not improve within 48 hours.
- You have persistent pain in your muscles, tendons, or joints lasting more than a few days.
- You have chronic pain in your joints and bones, particularly in your neck, knee, elbows, and/or back.
- There’s stiffness and a reduction in the range of motion in your joints.
- You have difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as climbing a flight of stairs or lifting or carrying relatively light items.
- You have joint pain that intensifies during rest periods.
- You have swelling or bruising around an injury location or a specific joint.
- You have signs of an infection, which may include fever, heat, inflammation, or redness around the affected area.
- You have signs of joint deformity.
It is important to see an orthopedic doctor at the onset of these symptoms, as early treatment can prevent the condition from worsening. An orthopedic doctor can quickly diagnose the problem, identify its cause, and inform you of your treatment options. They can also provide vital information and advice on pain management options.
What to Expect at Your Orthopedic Appointment
If you have never visited an orthopedic specialist before, here’s what you can expect during your first visit:
- As with any first-time medical appointment, you will need to complete paperwork (if you have not done so online before your visit) about your symptoms, medical history, and insurance. If necessary, your primary care physician can provide documentation of any past conditions and treatments.
- The orthopedist will review your medical history and get to know you as a patient before examining the area(s) that are causing pain or discomfort. The examination may involve tests of your limb strength and range of motion.
- If the cause of your painful problem cannot be determined through the initial physical exam, the orthopedist may order additional tests such as X-rays or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for a better assessment of your condition.
- Once the problem has been diagnosed, your orthopedic doctor can work with you to formulate an effective treatment plan. Many orthopedic injuries can be addressed with non-invasive measures such as oral or injectable medication, at-home exercise, and/or physical therapy depending on the severity of your condition. In any event, your orthopedic specialist will create a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs, including plans for surgical treatment if it is necessary.
Orthopedic Doctor Near You in San Antonio, Texas
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, we realize that if you or a loved one is dealing with pain due to an injury or a degenerative condition, you need prompt, professional attention from a highly qualified orthopedic doctor who can provide you with solutions designed to help you regain your quality of life. As such, we utilize a comprehensive range of advanced therapies, as well as traditional treatment options to effectively address a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained providers have been recognized locally by the media and their peers for exceptional care, and we look forward to continuing to treat patients in the South Texas community with the same care we would extend to our own families.