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Orthopedic Doctor vs. Orthopedic Surgeon: What’s the Difference?

December 19, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamespinkston @ 6:54 pm
Doctor examining patient’s knee

Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that specializes in treating the musculoskeletal system. If you have a problem with your muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, or tendons, chances are that you should consult with a doctor who specializes in orthopedics. But should you visit an orthopedist (orthopedic doctor) or an orthopedic surgeon? What is the difference between these two types of practitioners? This blog post provides important information.

Orthopedists vs. Orthopedic Surgeons

Both orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons can diagnose and treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, sports injuries, overuse injuries, back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.

Typically, the therapies provided by orthopedists are noninvasive or minimally invasive. For example, they might provide services like nerve hydrodissection, corticosteroid injections, nerve blocks, trigger point injections, and more. Some even offer regenerative medicine services, including stem cell therapy and prolotherapy. Their goal is to help patients heal and get out of pain via the most conservative means possible.

An orthopedic surgeon, on the other hand, may focus primarily on providing surgical intervention for severe or complex musculoskeletal issues. For example, they might perform various types of joint replacement, such as knee or hip replacement. Many orthopedic surgeons coordinate closely with orthopedists in order to provide optimum care for patients.

Which Should You Visit?

Whether you should visit an orthopedist or an orthopedic surgeon depends greatly on your unique condition.

If you have already tried conservative methods for your condition and have noticed little improvement, it might be time to consult with a surgeon.

On the other hand, if you have not yet seen a doctor, it may be best to visit an orthopedist first. They can thoroughly evaluate your situation and recommend a treatment plan. Often, they are able to help patients avoid surgery altogether. You may therefore be able to skip the pain and extensive recovery period that often comes after an invasive procedure. Of course, if necessary, they can refer you to a trustworthy surgeon.

Orthopedic doctors and orthopedic surgeons both play important roles in the medical community. Either one might help you to enjoy a healthier, more active life!

Meet the Practice

Dr. James Pinkston is an orthopedist who is board-certified in neuromusculoskeletal medicine. He has years of experience in providing non-surgical treatment for many different conditions. If you are struggling with aches and pains, he and our team would be happy to evaluate your situation and recommend your next steps. Contact Asheville Non-Surgical Orthopedics at 828-417-9913.

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