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An orthopedic consultant is a medical expert who treats patients with problems in their muscles, bones, joints and other related structures. He is an experienced physician and surgeon and is considered a specialist in the field of orthopedics. Orthopedics is a branch of medicine which studies the disorders associated with the musculoskeletal system. Conditions often handled by an orthopedic expert include arthritis, osteoporosis, bone tumors and broken bones or fractures. As a specialist, he is often asked to confirm a diagnosis, give expert advice and provide second opinions pertaining to musculoskeletal disorders.
As an orthopedic consultant, he usually diagnoses and treats patients with bone and muscle diseases, such as those caused by infections and degenerative diseases. He also commonly performs surgeries that preserve and restore the form and functions of the hands, legs, spine and other structures due to damage caused by injury. Most often, an orthopedic consultant performs surgery in patients with musculoskeletal injuries acquired from sporting accidents, vehicular accidents and falls. Congenital defects are also commonly repaired by an orthopedic expert subspecializing in children's musculoskeletal problems.
A thorough physical examination is usually conducted by the orthopedic specialist. A patient is carefully observed while standing and walking since abnormalities of posture and gait are often helpful in suggesting the diagnosis. Sometimes, a neurologic examination is also conducted when a neuromuscular disturbance is suspected. A series of X-rays of the bones and joints are frequently necessary to clarify or confirm the diagnosis. The application of an arm cast or a leg cast is also within the bounds of an orthopedic consultant’s scope of practice.
An orthopedic consultant may also opt to undergo further subspecialty training. Some of these subspecialties include pediatric orthopedics, which deals mostly with children's musculoskeletal disorders; surgical sports medicine, dealing mainly with trauma acquired from sports activities, particularly in athletes; and musculoskeletal oncology, which concentrates on the management and care of patients with cancers in the muscles and bones. Other subspecialties can be related to a specific part of the body, such as hand surgery, or shoulder and elbow surgery, or spine surgery.
The orthopedic consultant usually explains to the patient the nature of the illness or injury, the course of treatment and what is expected of the patient during the treatment process. He may also refer the patient to other medical departments for rehabilitation and counseling. Regular follow-up visits are generally important to monitor the patient during the recovery process.