When to See an Orthopaedic Surgeon

Got pain? If your pain is musculoskeletal, meaning that it is derived from the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones, then you may want to consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopaedic surgeons, also known as orthopaedic doctors or orthopaedists, specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders affecting the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. A general orthopaedist treats the entire body, while some elect to focus on a specific region of the body such as the hip and knee, foot and ankle, shoulder and elbow, hand, or spine. 

While the title of orthopedic surgeon implies that surgery is their speciality, there are actually other non-surgical treatments that they can offer you. In fact, orthopaedists provide services like sports medicine, fracture care, therapeutic injections, and physical therapy. Therefore, there are plenty of reasons to see an orthopaedist. Here are some signs that can indicate you should schedule an appointment with your local orthopaedic surgeon: 

Difficulty with Everyday Activities

We all experience musculoskeletal pain from time to time and unfortunately, it can get worse as we age. However, if the pain is so severe that it is making it difficult to complete or preventing you entirely from completing simple everyday tasks, then it may be time to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Things like not being able to walk your dog, struggling to get up from a chair, or not being able to use stairs are all possible indications you should see an orthopaedic surgeon. 

Painful Joints

Occasional joint pain is not usually something to worry about, however chronic joint pain is an indication of arthritis or other joint problems. Chronic joint pain is defined as persistent pain that lasts a minimum of three months. In some cases, joint pain may also be accompanied by swelling or inflammation around the affected joint. Depending on the exact cause of your joint pain, there are a number of things that an orthopaedist can do to alleviate joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

Limited Range of Motion

Another problem that can occur with joints and that warrants a visit to your local orthopaedist is limited range of motion. This can best be described as a feeling of tightness in the joints that makes it difficult or impossible to move them as you used to. In some cases, having a limited range of motion in certain joints can limit your ability to perform daily activities. 

Experiencing Instability While Walking or Standing

Instability is characterized by feelings of shakiness while standing, walking, sitting down, or while transitioning from a sitting to standing position. The most common cause of instability are joint problems that occur when the muscles, ligaments, and bones around or within the joint weaken. When this happens, the joint bones are unable to remain in their natural position, which causes them to feel shaky. 


If you have experienced an injury from a fall or collision that does not seem to be improving after 48 hours, then you should see an orthopaedic surgeon. This is especially important if you notice swelling, bruising, pain that increases with pressure or movement, and a loss of function in the affected area. In some cases, this can indicate a possible fracture or a soft tissue injury that was more severe than you initially thought. In any case, it is beneficial to receive an accurate diagnosis so that treatment can be carried out. 


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