What is Orthopaedics?

Orthopaedic surgery, or orthopaedics, deals with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. 

human skeletonThe roots of orthopaedic surgery are closely linked to the treatment of pediatric skeletal deformities. The word "orthopaedics" is derived from the Greek words orthos ("correct", "straight") and paideion ("child") and was first used in 1741. The correction of spinal and bony deformities became the cornerstone of orthopaedic practice.

Before World War I, orthopaedics dealt primarily in chronic deformities such as tuberculous joints, crooked spines, and poliomyelitis. Early on, orthopaedic surgeons were not always associated with surgery as many of their treatments were mechanical treatments, such as traction, splints, braces, and plaster casts. The physicians were known as “strap and buckle doctors." Indeed, one thought leader in our community was, Arthur Gillette, who in 1915 recognized that the best orthopaedic surgery results were operation followed by mechanical treatment.

During World War II, the orthopaedic surgeons provided care to soldiers with internal fixations of fractures. Since World War II orthopaedics has progressed to total joint replacements, minimally invasive surgeries using the arthroscope, and treatment of soft tissue problems of the extremities especially hand and sports injuries.