If you have suffered an injury to your musculoskeletal system or suffer pain in your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles or nerves, your best choice for care may be an orthopedic doctor.
Orthopedists diagnose, treat, provide rehabilitation recommendations and help prevent problems that emanate from any of the aforesaid body structures. They care for patients of any age, including children born with musculoskeletal deformities and even older people with arthritis.
Many orthopedists specialize in certain aspects of the body. It is not unusual to find specialists in hands, feet and ankles, the spine, hip or knee. They may also specialize in areas, such as sports medicine, or in pediatric orthopedics, working only with children.
An Orthopedic Doctor's Training and Credentials
An orthopedist begins his or her training with four years of medical school. There are two types of medical schools: one leads to a Medical Doctor (MD) and the other leads to an Osteopathic Doctor (DO). Both paths require a similar amount of education but focus differently; a MD practices allopathic medicine, considered to be conventional medicine in the United States, and looks at the body as a series of separately functioning systems. A DO learns more about the human musculoskeletal system and approaches the body as a whole system. In actual practice, the medical education received by MDs and DOs today is quite similar.
The next step is a minimum of five years as a resident.
Once the residency is completed, an orthopedist may continue with an extra year of more specialized training in a fellowship program.
Once a physician has completed these aspects of education, she may apply to be a certified member of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery or the American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics. Board membership requires frequent recertification, and, to accomplish that, the physician must complete annual coursework requirements and take a recertification test.
How to Choose the Right Orthopedist
To find the right fit between you and your orthopedic doctor, you'll want to identify possibilities, research credentials and then assess the doctor's capabilities for partnering with you.
Make a List of Possibilities
Compare these lists to find names in common with your needs. You'll want to spend time learning more about these orthopedists, researching their credentials and capabilities.
Research an Orthopedic Doctor's Credentials
Using the list of names you have collected, look for the following information on UCompareHealthCare.com:
Assess an Orthopedist's Capabilities
Once you have vetted your list based on the criteria above, you'll want to ask the following questions to determine which doctors are worth meeting:
If you are satisfied with the answers, you'll need to make an appointment, where you'll also want to consider these questions:
Finding the right orthopedist may seem like a long, involved process, however, knowing that this doctor may partner with you for the rest of your lifetime makes it worth your time and effort.
Guide to Patient Empowerment, About.com
Learn more about finding the right Orthopedist for you at About.com.