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What is orthopedics?

Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that addresses problems with the bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Orthopedists (doctors who specialize in orthopedics) can diagnose and treat many diseases and conditions, including:

  • Broken or dislocated bones.
  • Torn ligaments, sprains and strains.
  • Pulled muscles, tendon injuries and bursitis.
  • Low-back pain, ruptured disks, sciatica and scoliosis.
  • Knock-knees, bowlegs, bunions and hammertoes.
  • Arthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Bone tumors, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
  • Club foot and uneven leg length.
  • Finger, toe and growth abnormalities.
Most orthopedists spend about half of their time doing surgeries such as joint replacements and repairs.

These doctors must earn a bachelor's degree, complete four years of medical school and undergo five more years of specialized training. They often specialize in a single area, such as the spine, hip, foot or hand.

For more information, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website.

reviewed 7/10/2016

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