What Is a Bone Doctor Called?

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Orthopedists help fix broken bones.
Orthopedists help fix broken bones. (Image: "Red plaster socks" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: ItzaFineDay (Tavis Ford) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

An orthopedist is a doctor who specializes in injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the skeleton and its surrounding joints and muscles. The branch of medicine concerning these structures is called orthopedics.

Etymology

The word orthopedist comes from the Greek “ortho,” meaning "straight, true, correct, regular," and "paideia," meaning "rearing of children."

History

Orthopedics began in the 18th century and initially focused on treating children with spine and limb deformities. Knowledge of bone and muscular development advanced significantly in the 19th century; the enormous casualty rate in World War I then prompted the founding of orthopedic training centers. Orthopedists now treat patients of all ages.

Responsibilities

Orthopedists diagnose problems, determine an appropriate method of treatment and aid in the rehabilitation of injured or deformed bone structures.

Specialization

Many orthopedists specialize in specific areas, such as the spine, foot and ankle, hip or knee, while others focus on certain fields such as pediatrics, trauma or sports medicine.

Significance

More than one in four Americans has a musculoskeletal impairment. Musculoskeletal disorders cost the United States almost $850 billion each year.

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