All about your orthopedic surgeon
An orthopedic surgeon is a doctor that specializes in disorders of the joints, bone, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. These surgeons can diagnose, treat, perform surgery, and assist in rehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedics is a vast field consisting of surgeons that may have general knowledge or specialize in an area of expertise. For example, an orthopedic surgeon may specialize in hip and knee conditions, while another may specialize in foot issues. Until about 25 years ago, only neurosurgeons performed spine surgery. However, thanks to advancements in technology, orthopedics and neurosurgeons are equally qualified to perform these operations.
Recommendations and research
The most efficient way to select the best orthopedic surgeon is through research and recommendations. Start by asking a family doctor or general practitioner for referrals. Next, research the surgeons in the state and create a shortlist, if possible. Then look for patient reviews online or on the surgeon’s website if available. Finally, narrow down the list to about 3 surgeons since factors like cost and availability will come into play.
Look for board-certified orthopedic surgeons. These doctors have committed to high levels of care and success. For doctors and patients, experience matters. Find a surgeon with years of experience beyond schooling, with numerous successful procedures. The surgeon should also be adept at minimally invasive procedures, advancements in technology, and new techniques. Speaking with the surgeon directly may be the only way to confirm this information.
Trust in communication
Does the surgeon allow for consultations with new patients? This is a good sign. Set up a consultation and ask as many questions as possible. Ask lots of questions and take note of the doctors’ communication style. For example, is the communication style welcoming? Does interacting with the doctor feel comfortable? Is the doctor exploring different treatment methods besides surgery? If the consultations feel easy and hopeful, these are all positive signs.
Trust your gut
Even with all the information, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. The surgeon should not discourage second opinions. More importantly, orthopedic surgeons should be open about pricing, success rates, complications, and past procedures. If possible, speak with a past patient for more feedback. Go with the surgeon that feels like the patient comes first.
Research goes a long way
Choosing the best orthopedic surgeon should not be taken lightly. Despite the advancements in technology, spine surgery is still a risky and delicate procedure. The best way to do this is through due diligence. Start with board-certified practitioners, then look for other key factors like communication and success rate. The more time a patient spends on research, the better the decision and outcome.