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What is the Difference Between an Orthopedic Surgeon and an Orthopedic Specialist While orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are very similar, there are key differences between the two. Though both can diagnose, treat, prevent, and rehabilitate musculoskeletal conditions, only orthopedic surgeons can perform surgery in addition.

Orthopedists: What are they and what do they do?

An orthopedist is a doctor who specializes in conditions and diseases related to the musculoskeletal system of the body. This may include chronic conditions like arthritis or more acute conditions like a sports injury. While an orthopedist can examine and accurately diagnose the condition, the treatment options an orthopedist can provide are limited compared to an orthopedic surgeon. An orthopedist can provide patients braces, splints, casts, and can reset bones, but cannot provide any more intensive interventions. Orthopedists are generally consulted for issues not requiring surgery, or as a pre- or post-surgery consulting expert. An orthopedist will not perform any surgery.

Orthopedic Surgeons: What are they and what do they do?

Orthopedic surgeons are the experts who can provide the same care as an orthopedist, but who can also perform surgery as a treatment for patients. Though orthopedic surgeons can recommend surgery, just because they can doesn’t mean that any consultation with an orthopedic surgeon will result in surgery; orthopedic surgeons can also non-surgically treat and resolve musculoskeletal issues. Though not all interventions will require surgery, specific treatment for acute injuries, like a meniscus or ACL tear, will often require an orthopedic surgeon. These surgical interventions can help patients suffering from bone tumors, back pain, carpal tunnel, arthritis, and many other injuries.

Should I see an orthopedist or an orthopedic surgeon?

What is the Difference Between an Orthopedic Surgeon and an Orthopedic SpecialistWhether you need to visit an orthopedist or an orthopedic surgeon is entirely dependent on the type of care you expect to require. If you have had an acute, intense injury or are experiencing chronic pain which must be resolved as soon as possible, an orthopedic surgeon may be your best bet. These doctors will be able to assess the extent of your condition and can recommend and perform any surgery which may be required. Additionally, if surgery is required, it can be performed more quickly as an orthopedic surgeon won’t need to refer you to another doctor to perform the surgery.

Alternatively, if you are experiencing mild chronic pain or if you are hoping to avoid surgery entirely, an orthopedist may be the best choice for your initial care. These doctors will be able to diagnose your condition and provide non-surgical treatments to help you manage your pain. Orthopedists can also help you discover the cause of your chronic pain and suggest measures and practices to minimize it, which may involve interventions like physical therapy or steroid shots.

Great Lakes Orthopaedics

Whatever treatment you require, the leading specialists at Great Lakes Orthopaedics are dedicated to providing you with top-quality care for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

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