Orthopaedics is a branch of medicine that combines traumatology and surgery. This section works with injuries of the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joints, ligaments). Orthopaedic diseases are widespread. More than 137 million people are admitted annually with musculoskeletal disorders. Of these, about 30 million are due to trauma (most of them are fractures, dislocations and sprains). In addition, men are five times more likely to get orthopaedic hurts than women.
Orthopaedists treat a broad range of musculoskeletal disorders. Some of them are present from birth, and others arise due to injury or age-related wear:
- Flat feet;
- Bone cancer;
- Carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Fractures and dislocations;
- Low back pain and scoliosis;
- Pain in the joints, back, and neck;
- Congenital deformities of the limbs;
- Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon);
- Sprains of ligaments and muscles;
- Torn tendons;
- Bursitis ((inflammation of part of the joint and accumulation of fluid in there).
There are many reasons for orthopaedic conditions, both acute and chronic. Potential causes of orthopaedic disorders can be:
- Trauma (accident, fall, hit) and sports injuries;
- Inflammatory diseases (arthritis);
- Congenital disabilities.
Aspects that raise the chance of developing problems with the musculoskeletal system are obesity, old age, heart disease, smoking, and playing sports.
Orthopaedic problems can be dangerous because they lead to severe problems and significantly reduce the quality of life without proper treatment. Furthermore, some people become disabled due to late or incorrect therapy. Therefore, it is essential to undergo treatment in specialized leading clinics.
Common orthopaedic symptoms
As a rule, musculoskeletal disorders are accompanied by the following most common signs:
- Pain in the damaged areas. It is often aggravated by movement. Sometimes the ache is so severe that patients try not to move the affected limb:
- Impaired functionality - means restriction of movements.
Other characteristic signs of damage are:
- An inflammatory process of the joints (swelling, redness, warmth);
- Numbness of the limbs;
- Body aches;
- Deformation of the affected area;
- Crunch in the joints;
- Body aches and weakness;
- Violation of posture and lameness.
When a bone is broken, there is sudden severe pain, and the fracture site suddenly swells. If an open fracture occurs, part of the bone may even stick out. In addition, many chronic orthopaedic conditions can impair joint motions, cause discomfort, and dull pain.
What diagnostic options are used in orthopaedics?
To diagnose bone, joint or ligament issues, orthopaedic doctors examine patients, exploring whether there is inflammation or deformity. The most widely used examination method is radiography. It uses x-rays and is excellent at showing bony changes. In addition, the test has a lower radiation exposure than a CT scan.
In arthrography, a doctor uses a thin needle to inject a contrast agent into the joint and takes pictures in different positions. Physicians may perform arthrography using X-rays, CTs, or MRIs. This method is more detailed than conventional radiography.
A bone density test is an examination to measure bone viscosity. Diagnosis is performed using X-rays or a special CT scan. Physicians prescribe this method to diagnose osteoporosis (diseases with a decrease in bone density and strength become crispy and prone to fractures).
MRI of the limbs (magnetic resonance imaging) is a specially developed technique for examining the upper and lower extremities. Thanks to a strong magnetic field and radio waves, the device accurately displays problems that a standard x-ray cannot detect. In addition, the test is designed, and better show soft tissues. Therefore, it is an ideal solution for tendon and cartilage problems.
PedCAT is an innovative 3D imaging of the foot and ankle. It is safer than CT having a lower radiation dose while simultaneously displaying not one plane but a full 3D model of the limb. Doctors diagnose fractures, deformities, tumours, and arthritis using this method.
Electromyography (EMG) studies the conduction of nerve impulses through the muscles. As a rule, this testing accurately identifies injuries and diseases of the muscles and nerves.
Orthopaedics might prescribe ultrasound to see the structures of the joints and their damage. The advantages of this approach are the absence of radiation exposure and the affordable price (significantly lower than MRI or CT scans).
Arthroscopy is an orthopaedic procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera to diagnose and treat joints. First, the doctor examines the entire joint, cartilage, and ligaments using an arthroscope. Surgeons can find and correct the problem during the examination, if necessary.
What is orthopaedic treatment available in modern clinics?
The treatment regimen depends on the disease and the patient's condition. After the diagnosis, the orthopaedist draws up an individual therapy plan, which consists of several options for a speedy recovery and restoration of the functions of the affected area. Orthopaedics and traumatologists divide the treatment of the musculoskeletal system into surgical and non-surgical.
The non-surgical (i.e. conservative) tactic might include therapy with drugs that relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and strengthens joints and bones. Rehabilitation, including massage, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, and acupuncture. Rehabilitation programs use stretching, robotic equipment and strength exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion. Sometimes, it requires giving the limb a rest and not loading it. Therefore doctors resort to immobilization (tires, plaster) to give time for recovery. Regenerative medicine:
- Plasma-rich therapy (PRP) is a modern treatment that helps speed healing. It is a series of plasma injections with platelets obtained from the blood. PRP therapy promotes healing and eliminates the need for certain medications. This method is safe since the source of platelets is the patient's blood.
- Stem cell therapy is an advanced medicine that stimulates the natural healing process. Stem cells can transform into other body cells (cartilage, muscle, bone). This treatment is also safe because the doctor takes the stem cells from the patient's body.
In issues where conservative medicine does not help, patients need to turn to surgery.
- Endoprosthetics (joint replacement) is a surgical procedure performed for severe disorders when other methods are ineffective. In the best orthopaedics clinics, robotic endoprosthetics are available. It is a replacement by repairing a damaged joint through a small incision under anaesthesia. The surgeon can use a robotic arm, which at times increases the accuracy of the operation.
- Internal fixation uses pins, plates, and screws to keep broken bones from moving while they heal.
- Arthroscopy is a minimal surgical procedure when the doctor inserts a particular instrument with a video camera into the joint. Then, the orthopaedist performs manipulations in the middle of the joint with minimal tissue injury.
Benefits of orthopaedic treatment abroad
Treatment of orthopaedic diseases in high-quality hospitals certainly has many advantages, making thousands of people come annually. The reasons why patients undergo the entire stage of therapy, from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation abroad:
- All orthopaedists in the clinics undergo extensive international training and advanced training courses with the study of the latest programs;
- Such narrow specialists as sports medicine doctors, rehabilitologists, physiotherapists, etc. are available;
- Orthopaedists work in a team of doctors with traumatologists, surgeons and radiologists;
- Physicians use minimally invasive operations. However, if a joint replacement is needed, the clinics have high-quality and latest models of prostheses.
What is modern orthopaedic treatment available?
Modern orthopaedic approaches consist of drug therapy and surgery. In addition, innovative treatment of bones and muscles is carried out using stem cells and platelet-rich plasma. Leading surgical treatment includes arthroplasty (joint replacement) and arthroscopic surgery (chondroplasty, meniscus resection using a thin tube).
Why might orthopaedics abroad be better?
Orthopaedics abroad can be better for the following reasons:
- Availability of advanced technologies for fast and effective treatment;
- Highly qualified and specialized orthopaedists;
- Affordable costs.
Do many patients travel abroad for joint replacement?
Yes. Thousands of people travel abroad for orthopaedic treatment annually, and more seek medical help. The medicine in leading orthopaedic centres has a high quality of healthcare, no queues for prosthetics or operations, and the availability of modern methods at reasonable prices.
Is orthopaedics expensive in other countries?
Prices for orthopaedics are formed based on the spectrum of healthcare and medical services. The cost depends on the chosen country, clinic and doctor. Also, the operation and the type of implants affect the price. Orthopaedic treatment abroad is usually more than 30% more affordable than in the USA or Canada.
Can I have non-surgical orthopaedic treatment abroad?
Exactly yes. Many orthopaedic surgical treatments are available exclusively abroad. Methods such as stem cell transplantation have long been popular in treating musculoskeletal problems. Rehabilitation care is widely developed in European countries. Many clinics have rehabilitation units with the latest robotic equipment and exercise techniques.
What are the best clinics for Orthopaedics?
Who are the best doctors for Orthopaedics?
Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Hinterwimmer from ATOS Orthopaedic Clinic Munich
Prof. Dr. med. Rudiger von Eisenhart-Rothe from University Hospital rechts der Isar Munich
Dr. med. Peter A. Bernius from M1 Private Clinic Munich
Prof. Dr. med. Peter Habermeyer from ATOS Orthopaedic Clinic Munich
Dr. med. Michael D. Schubert from ATOS Orthopaedic Clinic Munich