Ask a Doc

Curious? Concerned? Just click on the links below for answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. You can even submit your own question about your condition or our services. This archive does not address all conditions, and answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone so, if you have been injured or are experiencing medical symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor. Click below for more information on:

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthopedic Procedures

Q: How do I know whether I need an orthopedic procedure?

A: When pain or limited movement interferes with your ability carry out daily activities or disturbs your sleep, it may be time to consider an orthopedic procedure.

Q: What kind of diagnostic tests might be involved?

A: Your doctor may recommend X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan. X-rays are generally used to help diagnose fractures and dislocations, bone degeneration or disease, infections, or tumors. An MRI may be used to help identify bone and joint problems. And a CT scan, formerly known as a CAT scan, is especially helpful in diagnosing problems with the spine and vertebrae.

Q: Do orthopedic surgeons always use surgery to treat their patients?

A: No. In fact, many orthopedic conditions can be treated with medication, physical therapy, and other non-surgical means. Your physician will work closely with you do recommend a course of care.

Q: Why might a cortisone/corticosteriod injection be recommended?

A: Cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment for chronic conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis, and arthritis. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, it may help pain diminish as a result of reduced inflammation.

Q: What are NSAIDs and how do they work?

A: NSAIDs stands for “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” NSAIDs include over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. They are commonly used to relieve muscular aches and pains, as well as arthritis.

Q: What is arthroscopy?

A: Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique in which the physician uses a tiny camera called an arthroscope to view and treat the affected area. Because this method requires a much smaller incision than traditional surgery, the potential benefits include less tissue damage, less blood loss, less scarring, and a shorter recovery period.

Q: If my procedure involves pins or implants, will I set off the metal detector at the airport?

A: It is probable that the metal in your joint or bone will set off metal detectors. We can provide you with a card stating that you have a metal implant. Have this ready with your boarding pass and ID when you go through screening. Some screeners will still insist that you also be patted down or wanded for metal items before proceeding.

Q: What kind of education and training must an orthopedic surgeon have?

A: As noted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), orthopedic surgeons complete up to 14 years of formal education, including four years of study in a college or university, four years of medical school, five years in orthopedic residency at a major medical center, and one optional year of specialized education.

Q: How can I prepare for surgery?

A: There are several things you can do to enhance the results of your surgery and make your recovery safer and more comfortable:

  • Arrange for help after you get home and arrange your belongings to reduce tripping hazards.
  • If your doctor has suggested you lose weight, try changing your diet and be as active as you can. Be sure that any dieting involves maintaining good nutrition. Malnutrition is one of the factors that will adversely affect healing after surgery.
  • If you’re a smoker, try to quit. Smoking can slow down your healing.
  • Ask your doctor about the available classes on strengthening exercises you can do before surgery to reduce healing time.
  • If you have not seen a dentist in the past two years or have loose or broken teeth, these should be evaluated before joint replacement. A bad tooth is a type of chronic infection.

Q: What equipment will I need at home after surgery?

A: Helpful items include a bath or shower chair, a hand-held showerhead, a long-handled grabber, and an elevated toilet seat. Professionally installed grab bars in your bathroom are a good idea. The hospital discharge planner will help you obtain such items prior to your discharge.

Q: Can I take my usual medications before surgery?

A: When you have your pre-operative physical, the doctor will address each of your medicines and their use prior to surgery. Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines, mainly NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, affect the blood\’s ability to clot. You should stop taking them for 5 days before your operation. Unless otherwise discussed, you should stay on your regular blood pressure or other medications for the heart. You can take your morning medications before surgery with a small sip of water. Be sure to bring your medications to the hospital to review with the nurses and doctors.