Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
What is orthopedic care and why might you need it?
Orthopedic care is a branch of medicine focused on the care of the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, muscles, connective tissues, ligaments, tendons and joints. There are many reasons to visit an orthopedic doctor or specialist, ranging from arthritis pain and osteoporosis to dislocations, fractures and sports-related injuries.
People of all ages may find themselves in need of orthopedic care at one time or another, but when it comes to older adults, aging-related changes to the body often lead to an increase in orthopedic injuries and point to the importance of preventative orthopedic care.
Common reasons older adults seek orthopedic care
OSTEOPOROSIS» Bones are made up of living tissue that is constantly breaking down and regenerating. When the regeneration of new bone tissue no longer keeps up with the loss of bone tissue, the resulting condition is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, so much that even a hard cough or sneeze can cause a bone fracture, let alone a fall. An orthopedic doctor can recommend treatment that will slow the rate of bone loss due to osteoporosis. OSTEOARTHRITIS» Osteoarthritis, also commonly referred to as just arthritis, refers to the condition in which the cartilage in the joints deteriorates, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints in the hands, feet, ankles, knees, and spine and can
make everyday activities difficult. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, an orthopedic doctor can suggest a treatment regimen to minimize discomfort. FRACTURES» As bones age, they lose mineral density, making them weaker and more brittle. A fracture is essentially a broken bone, which can vary in terms of severity. Osteoporosis as well as trauma such as from falls or car accidents can cause fractures. DISLOCATIONS» Dislocations occur when a bone pops out of its joint socket. As we age, our joints become less stable and thus more easily susceptible to dislocations. While a dislocation can occur at any ball and socket joint, the most common are shoulder dislocations and finger dislocations. Older adults might also experience dislocations
of the knees, hips, or elbows.
Ways to prevent orthopedic issues
There are several measures that can help prevent — or at the very least minimize — orthopedic issues, and it is not too late to start.
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Be mindful of footwear
• Develop and maintain a strong core
• Routinely visit a doctor