Signs You Need to See an Orthopaedic Surgeon

When an injury first happens, many people assume that a few days of rest and taking pain relievers is all they need to get better. That could very well be the case in some situations, but many injuries that seem minor at first can produce long-term complications without medical intervention. A sprained ankle from playing basketball and shoulder pain from helping a friend move are two good examples of this.

Doctors typically tell patients to follow the R.I.C.E. method immediately after an injury. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It’s time to see an orthopaedic specialist at the Bruce Carter United Orthopaedic and Spine Center if these treatments fail to relieve your pain and swelling after two to three days. While you might feel like you can push through the pain, doing so can delay healing and cause additional injuries to the area.

Your First Appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon

Meeting with one of our orthopaedic specialists doesn’t necessarily mean that you will need surgery. We prefer to try more conservative methods first whenever possible, such as physical therapy, cortisone injections, or prescription medication. However, your injury could fail to respond to any one of these. It may also be severe enough to warrant immediate surgery. Some of the indications that you may need surgery include:

  • Persistent swelling of your joints
  • Instability of joints
  • Decreased range of motion that doesn’t improve with strength training
  • A broken bone or obvious deformity

Most people don’t start out meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon. It’s likely that your regular doctor or physical therapist has referred you to us for a consultation. If so, it’s important to provide as much detail about your injury as possible. We will tell you what to expect during and after surgery, but it’s also important that we know your expectations for the procedure and recovery. This is to ensure that you have realistic expectations for the outcome. While orthopaedic surgery typically produces excellent results, you may not have the same range of motion and abilities that you had before your injury.

Your surgeon will ask you several questions to evaluate your overall health. This includes medications you take, current health conditions, past surgeries, and any other concerns that affect your well-being. If you smoke, you need to stop in the days leading up to your surgery and while you recover. This may just be the motivation you need to quit altogether.

Surgery Expectations

Orthopaedic surgeons deal with the musculoskeletal system, which includes the joints, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Hip, knee, and shoulder surgery are among the most common, although they are far from the only procedures our surgeons perform. Some musculoskeletal injuries are appropriate for minimally invasive surgery in an outpatient setting. We aim to perform minimally invasive surgery whenever possible because the procedure and recovery time are shorter. It also causes significantly less stress to the body.

Whether you receive outpatient surgery or a more complex procedure that requires a hospital stay, your surgeon will let you know exactly what you can expect. It’s important to follow his or her instructions on preparing for the surgery as well as recovering from it. Besides quitting smoking, you may need to stop taking some of your medications and avoid eating or drinking for a certain time before surgery. We may need to cancel or reschedule your surgery if you don’t follow the instructions. Not following your doctor’s advice after surgery can prolong your recovery or cause an infection.

Tips for Avoiding Injury in the Future

Your injury happened and all you can do now is undergo surgery or follow your doctor’s other recommendations. These tips can help you avoid both repeat and new injuries:

  • Be sure to stretch and warm up before planned physical activity and cool down afterward
  • Start a new fitness routine slowly to give your body the chance to get acclimated to it
  • Consider total body conditioning to increase strength, flexibility, and mobility
  • Your age and level of physical fitness affect the probability of injury, so plan accordingly

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.