What Is An Orthopedic Doctor, and Do You Need One?

If you’re suffering from pain or swelling in your joints, back, neck, hands, or feet, and you find it hard to go about your daily activities or move around, chances are you need the services of a bone specialist such as an orthopedic doctor. But what is an orthopedic doctor exactly, and how can one help you?

Orthopedic doctors work in the medical field that focuses on the diseases, conditions, and injuries that affect your musculoskeletal system. Your musculoskeletal system is made up of your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints, soft tissues, and nerves. It’s everything that works together to form and support your body and helps you move.

Simply put, orthopedic doctors are the medical professionals who can reduce or eliminate pain, stiffness, swelling, or discomfort in your:

  • Ankles, feet, hips, and knees
  • Back, neck, and spine
  • Elbows and shoulders
  • Hands, fingers, and wrists

Although the term musculoskeletal may sound like an uncommon or serious health problem, you can see that an orthopedic doctor pretty much takes care of pain everywhere from your neck to your toes.

What Do Orthopedic Doctors Do to Care For You When You’re in Pain or Injured?

During your office visit and evaluation, you’ll provide your doctor with your medical history and a complete description of your ailment. The doctor may order X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds to help diagnose the cause of your symptoms.

Among the most common causes of pain are:

 Close up of a bone doctor showing a patient a model of the backbone and spinal cord.

  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Herniated disks, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Sports injuries
  • Fractures
  • Sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Hip, knee, and shoulder joint conditions

Once you’ve received a diagnosis, your orthopedic doctor will explain your options and work with you to develop a course of action. Depending on your situation, the treatments discussed can include a variety of options.

Pain management

  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin or prescription medicines such as corticosteroids can help manage your pain and relieve symptoms.
  • RICE treatment: depending on the cause of your pain (such as a sprained ankle), you may be instructed to rest, ice, compress with wraps to decrease swelling, and elevate the affected part of your body.

Non-surgical treatments

  • Medication to treat disease
  • Physical therapy and exercises
  • Immobilization using braces, splints, and casts to reduce strain on an injured area
  • Changes to diet and activity level can help heal the condition


  • Partial or complete joint replacement of damaged or diseased joints
  • Placement of pins, screws, plates, and rods to hold broken bones together
  • Soft tissue repair of damaged muscles, ligaments, or tendons
  • Fusing bones together to make them stronger and relieve pain
  • Release surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve
  • Arthroscopy and other minimally invasive procedures to correct other painful issues

From diagnosis to recovery, your orthopedic doctor will be with you every step of the way to help you recover and get back to living your life without pain.

If You’re in Pain, Find Out How an Orthopedic Doctor Can Help You

All of us at Town Center Orthopaedics in Ashburn, Centreville, Fairfax, and Reston, VA are dedicated to providing the best quality, full-service orthopedic care in Virginia. We specialize in treating pain and disorders of the hand, wrist, spine, back, foot, ankle, joints, shoulder, and elbow with the latest cutting-edge surgical and non-surgical methods. We also provide physical therapy, pain management, and sports medicine.

To schedule your evaluation with an orthopedic doctor to discuss your symptoms, call us at Town Center Orthopaedics anytime at (571) 250-5660 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you soon.

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TCO provides patients with orthopedic problems the trusted resources and patient-centered advice they need to “Feel Better. Move Better. Be Better.”