What is Orthopaedics?
Orthopaedics is a specialised field of medicine that provides comprehensive care for injuries, disorders, and diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system comprises our body’s intricate network of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons. Orthopaedic surgeons utilise both surgical and non-surgical methods to treat a wide range of conditions and help patients regain full mobility.
What Are the Sub-Specialty Areas of Orthopaedics?
The field of orthopaedics spans across numerous sub-speciality areas. Each of these focuses on a specific body part or a particular type of treatment:
- Spine Orthopaedics: This sub-speciality primarily deals with diagnosing and treating conditions and disorders associated with the spine and the back region.
- Hip and Knee Orthopaedics: As the name suggests, this field specifically addresses conditions related to the hip and knee joints.
- Shoulder and Elbow Orthopaedics: This sub-speciality treats conditions and injuries affecting the shoulder and elbow joints.
- Hand and Wrist Orthopaedics: This field focuses on managing disorders and injuries of the hand, wrist, and forearm.
- Foot and Ankle Orthopaedics: This field provides sub-specialised treatment for various foot and ankle problems.
- Sports Medicine: This field of orthopaedics deals with the prevention and treatment injuries arising from sports and exercise.
- Musculoskeletal Oncology: This field of orthopaedics focuses on diagnosing and treating cancers of the musculoskeletal system, such as bone cancer.
- Trauma Surgery: This sub-speciality deals with acute musculoskeletal injuries, often arising from accidents, falls and collisions.
- Paediatric Orthopaedics: This field focus on diagnosing and treating bone, joint, and muscle problems in children.
When Should One See an Orthopaedic Doctor?
Orthopaedic doctors possess specialist expertise to diagnose and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, be it back pain, arthritis, sports injuries, bone fractures, and more. People are advised to see an orthopaedic doctor promptly if they experience the following:
- Pain, weakness or tingling in one’s joints or limb
- Limited range of motion in a particular joint
- Joint instability or a clicking/popping sensation
Depending on the nature and severity of the condition, orthopaedic specialists can provide either surgical or non-surgical treatments.
How to Find the Right Orthopaedic Surgeon?
Selecting the right Singapore orthopaedic surgeon requires a systematic approach and careful consideration. Here are some steps to guide you through the process:
- Ask for Referrals
Start your journey by asking for recommendations from your family doctor, family members, and friends. Getting multiple referrals can help you gather diverse options to consider.
- Review the Doctor’s Credentials
Assess the orthopaedic surgeon’s qualifications, training, and experience. This includes the medical school attended, residency programmes completed, and any fellowship training they may have undergone. Then, see if they are accredited by the Ministry of Health in Orthopaedic Surgery, which will serve as a testimony to the doctor’s ability to deliver proper orthopaedic care.
- Check Surgeon’s Specialty and Training
Many orthopaedic surgeons either have a special interest in a particular field within orthopaedics; and some even have sub-specialty credentials. If this is important to you, then you should ensure that the doctor you seek has the focused experience that aligns with your condition.
- Review Your Insurance Coverage
Check if the orthopaedic surgeon is within your insurance network to prevent unexpected costs. Contact your insurance provider to confirm whether the surgeon is in-network or out-of-network. You may also contact the clinic to check if the particular procedure is covered by Medisave or not. This will help you understand your coverage and potential out-of-pocket expenses.
- Read Patient Reviews
Patient reviews offer first-hand insight into the surgeon’s practice, skill, and style of patient interaction. Reading about other patients’ experiences can help you better understand what to expect and help you make an informed decision.
What Happens During an Orthopaedic Consultation?
There is a wide range of orthopaedic conditions, ranging from acute injuries to chronic disease. Here are some common conditions that orthopaedic specialists come across:
- Arthritis: This degenerative joint disease is a progressive condition that gradually erodes the protective cartilage of joints. This gives rise to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and diminished mobility. It commonly affects older adults but can also occur in younger individuals. In many cases, this results in arthritis of the knee and hip, which requires a knee replacement surgery or a hip replacement surgery to treat.
- Osteoporosis: This degenerative condition weakens the bones, making them more prone to fractures. Osteoporosis happens when the body experiences bone loss at a faster rate than it can replenish, resulting in an overall loss of bone density over time.
- Fractures: These occur when the bones break as a result of injury or weakened bone composition. Fractures can range from minor hairline cracks to more severe breaks that require surgical intervention. Common causes include falls, accidents, and sports-related injuries.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This nerve disorder affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, becomes compressed or irritated. Repetitive hand and wrist movements are often contributing factors.
- Tendonitis: This condition involves inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscles to bones. Overuse or repetitive movements can lead to irritation and swelling of the tendon, causing pain, tenderness, and limited mobility.
Who Needs to Undergo Orthopaedic Surgery?
Orthopaedic surgery might be recommended to patients with serious musculoskeletal conditions that significantly impact their daily life and have not responded well to non-surgical interventions. Here are some situations where orthopaedic surgery might be considered:
- Bone Fractures: Severe fractures or broken bones, especially those not aligning correctly for healing, might require surgical intervention for proper alignment and stabilisation.
- Joint Pain and Damage: Individuals experiencing persistent joint pain, either due to arthritis or injury, which is not responding to medication or physiotherapy, might need joint repair or replacement surgery.
- Spinal Conditions: Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis, that cause severe pain, weakness, or numbness and do not respond to conservative treatments might require surgical intervention.
- Sports Injuries: Some sports injuries, like a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee or a severe rotator cuff injury in the shoulder, often require surgery to restore the function of the injured area fully.
- Musculoskeletal Deformities: Individuals with certain deformities, such as scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) or limb length discrepancy, might need orthopaedic surgery to correct the deformity and improve function and appearance.
- Musculoskeletal Tumours: Patients with certain benign or malignant (cancerous) tumours of the bone or soft tissues might require surgery as part of their treatment.
- Degenerative Diseases: Progressive conditions like osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease can cause severe deterioration of joints or spinal discs over time. When these conditions cause debilitating pain or significantly impact the quality of life, surgery might be the best option.
Non-surgical sports injury treatments may include:
- RICE Method – RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This is one of the first treatments performed to alleviate pain caused by trauma or overuse. First, allow the injured area to rest to prevent further trauma. Applying ice and compression bandages appropriately can help reduce swelling and pain.
- Medications – Pain and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to aid in symptomatic treatment while the injured area heals.
- Physiotherapy – This rehabilitation programme includes a series of exercises designed to improve one’s strength and range of motion. Physiotherapy is usually recommended for patients suffering from certain cases of muscle strain, tendon injury, or ligament injury.
Sports Surgery in Singapore
In cases where the injury is serious, or non-surgical treatment did not yield much success, sports surgery may be recommended. These are performed by sports surgeons to repair damaged structures of the musculoskeletal system. Some common sports surgery procedures include:
- Rotator Cuff Repair – A rotator cuff repair procedure usually involves reattaching the tendon to the top part of the arm bone, known as the humeral head. If there is a partial tear, it might need a smoothening process called debridement. In cases of a full tear, the tendon is stitched back to its original spot on the arm bone.
- Meniscus Repair Surgery – Meniscus repair surgery is a common procedure used to remove or repair a torn meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee. Here, the sports surgeon will either sew the torn pieces of cartilage back together (complete tear); or he or she might just remove the damaged cartilage and retain the healthy tissue (partial tear).
- ACL Reconstruction Surgery – A torn ACL is one of the most common sports injuries. This injury can be treated with an ACL reconstruction. In this procedure, the injured ligament is replaced with a new ACL graft. This tissue can come from the patient’s own body (autograft), like the patellar tendon or hamstring, or it could be donated by another person (allograft).
Why Choose Quantum Orthopaedics?
Choosing the right orthopaedic clinic in Singapore is instrumental for attaining the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition. Whether you have a sports injury or a chronic condition like arthritis, or require complex orthopaedic surgery in Singapore, Quantum Orthopaedics offers a blend of professional expertise, advanced technology, and a patient-centric approach for optimal outcomes. Contact us at 6235 8781 to book an appointment today.