What is meant by the term orthopedics?
Orthopedics refers to a field of medicine that deals with the treatment of congenital malformations, the prevention and therapy of chronic diseases, and injuries to the musculoskeletal system. In addition to diagnosing the particular cause of the ailment, various therapeutic options are examined and rehabilitation procedures are devised for the patient.
The human musculoskeletal system is a complex system. Not only bones, muscles and joints, but also tendons, vessels, nerves, ligaments and bursa perform important tasks. If problems occur in one of the above-mentioned areas, this can lead to pain or restricted movement that is unpleasant for the patient and reduces the quality of life. This must be counteracted.
Orthopedic surgery has the expertise for the surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system.
It is concerned with correcting disorders of the function of the musculoskeletal system and deals with all congenital and acquired diseases as well as injuries of the bones, joints with their associated ligaments, tendons and muscles.
In recent decades, the number of cases treated in orthopedics has increased massively, and medical statistics show that accidents, the consequences of injuries, degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system (arthrosis) and so-called rheumatic diseases now account for a major proportion of all diseases requiring treatment.
Orthopedic treatment areas
Orthopedics treats a variety of acute and chronic conditions. These include:
- Bone necroses
- torn ligaments
- herniated discs
- Heel spurs
- Pointed and splayed foot
- tennis elbow
- infections of the joints
- hip dysplasia
- collarbone fracture
- snapping finger
The history of orthopedics
The term orthopedics originated in the 18th century. It was coined by the Paris pediatrician Nicolas Andry, who likened the orthopedist to a gardener snapping a crooked little tree to a sturdy stake. Since then, this allegory has been the professional emblem of all orthopedic societies.
Around 1816, modern orthopedics finally found its beginning in Würzburg. In the 1970s, it became today's regular university subject. The pioneers of orthopedics in France are considered to be the anatomist and physiologist Sauveur Henri Victor Bouvier, who opened an orthopedic institute in 1840.
Orthopedics borders on the specialty of trauma surgery. The transitions are fluid. In 2005, the specialty of orthopedics was merged with the surgical sub-specialty of trauma surgery.
Doctors can treat orthopedic diseases and injuries in two ways: surgically and conservatively.
Nowadays, most orthopedic surgeries are minimally invasive. Surgeries in orthopedics can be, for example:
- OP after meniscus injury
- Surgery after herniated disc
- Hip TEP surgery
- Knee TEP surgery
- Spondylodesis surgery (spinal fusion)
- Conservative treatment
In orthopedics, conservative treatment methods include:
- Pain therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Orthoses (e.g. knee orthoses)
- Infiltration and injection techniques (e.g. infiltration for back pain)
First aid for orthopedic injuries
If you have injured muscles or joints, first aid is often crucial for the healing process. Experts recommend the so-called PECH rule:
P - Rest: You should immediately immobilize the affected body part.
E - Ice: In the next step, cool the injured body region. Cold relieves pain and prevents severe swelling. Important: Wrap the ice in a cloth. Because if the ice is applied directly to the skin, there is a risk of frostbite.
C - Compressions: Then apply a compression bandage. This can prevent or reduce swelling and bruising.
H - Elevation: Finally, elevate the affected body part higher than the heart is located. This allows blood from the injured region to flow back to the heart more easily.
As with other medical subdisciplines, the demarcation to neighboring fields is not always sharp. Due to numerous overlaps, the previously independent specialty of orthopedics was merged with the subfield of trauma surgery in 2005. Instead of training to become a specialist in orthopedics, the current training regulations of the German Medical Association of 2018 only provide for a specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery.
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