FAQ's



General Orthopedics Questions

What is orthopedics?
Orthopedics (alternatively, orthopaedics) is a specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions, disorders, diseases and injuries of the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
What is the difference between a sprain and a fracture?

A fracture is a break in a bone. A fracture rarely includes surgery and is usually treated by immobilizing the bone with a cast or a splint, which allows the broken bones to grow back together. Fractures can occur in any bone in the body and are often the result of high force impact or stress; however fractures may also be a result of medical conditions that weaken the bone.

What is arthritis?
Arthritis means "joint inflammation." Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions causing pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that damages the lining surrounding our joints while also destroying bones, tissue, and joints over time. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that slowly damages the cartilage surrounding the ends of bones and is common in the hip, knee and spine.
Should I use ice on my injury? Should I use heat on my injury?
The general rule of thumb is to use ice in the acute stage of an injury (within the first 24-48 hours), or whenever swelling is showing. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and swelling by decreasing blood flow to the area that is injured. The general guideline is to apply ice indirectly (not directly on the skin) for 20 minutes, remove the ice for at least 20 minutes, and repeat as necessary. Heat is used to increase blood flow, which helps promote pain relief after inflammation and swelling subside. Heat is also used to assist in warming muscles up prior to exercise, any physical activity, or physical therapy.

Orthopedics Specialists Questions

What is an orthopedic doctor? What is an orthopedic surgeon?
An orthopedic doctor, also known as an orthopedist, is a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who specializes in the musculoskeletal system—bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Orthopedic surgeons are specialized in the musculoskeletal system; many orthopedists specialize in certain areas of the body, such as foot and ankle, hand and wrist, back, neck and spine. Additionally, orthopedic doctors may focus on a specific field of orthopedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine, and trauma.
What is the educational training of an orthopedic surgeon?

Board-certified orthopedic surgeons have successfully completed a minimum of 13 years of formal education:

  • Undergraduate: Four years of study in a college or university
  • Medical School: Four years of study in a school of medicine
  • Orthopedic Residency: Five years of study at a major medical institution

Board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons have completed:

  • Undergraduate: Four years of study in a college or university
  • Medical School: Four years of study in a school of medicine
  • Orthopedic Residency: Five years of study at a major medical institution
  • Fellowship Training: One year of specialized education in an accredited fellowship program

All orthopedic surgeons continue their medical education yearly to stay current in orthopedic knowledge and skills.

What is a board certified orthopedic surgeon?

Once a doctor has completed an orthopedic residency at a major medical institution, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery offers a written test to become board eligible. If the written test is passed, the doctor becomes “eligible” to take the oral test, after two years in practice. When the doctor passes the oral exam, the doctor becomes “board certified” and is considered a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.


The intent of the certification process, as defined by the board members of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is to provide assurance to the public that a certified medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and an evaluation, including an examination process designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills requisite to the provision of high-quality patient care in that specialty.

What is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon?

A fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon is a doctor who has completed a minimum of 13 years of education and has completed an additional year of specialty training in a specific field of orthopedic surgery in an accredited fellowship program.

What is an Advanced Practitioner?

Springfield Clinic Advanced Practitioners can either be Physician Assistants or certified Nurse Practitioners, both are academically trained healthcare professionals licensed by the State of Illinois and certified by a national board. Advanced Practitioners are able to perform many of the same services provided by physicians, including prescribing medications, ordering diagnostic tests and treating illnesses. Advanced Practitioners are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising doctor or specialist. Advanced Practitioners see patients in the office, as well as assist the doctors in surgery.

What is a primary care sports medicine doctor?

A primary care sports medicine doctor is a leader in the field of sports medicine. Either through advanced fellowship training or through years of clinical experience, a primary care sports medicine doctor has learned the skills to take care of athletes of all ages, sports, and levels of competition. Primary care sports medicine doctors often serve as team doctors to professional sports teams or are personal doctors to elite level athletes.

What is a physical therapist?

A physical therapist is licensed by the state and specializes in therapy programs for musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, sports injuries, post-operative rehabilitation, and massage therapy.

What is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist is licensed by the state and specializes in the treatment of the upper extremity (hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder) and work injuries. The services provided by occupational therapists include patient education, joint range of motion, adaptive techniques, splinting, and workplace evaluations.

General Test and Treatment Questions

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure commonly performed to diagnose and treat problems within the joint. By using high-tech cameras, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a small instrument, called an arthroscope, into the joint.

The arthroscope contains a fiber optic light source and small television camera that allow the surgeon to view the joint on a television monitor and diagnose the problem, determine the extent of injury, and make any necessary repairs.

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density test is used to diagnosis osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes weakening of the bones ultimately resulting in fractures. In the past, osteoporosis could only be detected after a person's bone broke; however, by using a bone density test, it is possible to know one's individual risk of breaking bones before one breaks.

A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other bone mineral packed into the segment of bone. Common areas that are tested using a bone density scan include the spine, hip, and forearm.

What is a cortisone injection?

Corticosteroids, more commonly referred to as, cortisone, is a steroid produced in the body naturally. Synthetically produced cortisone can also be injected into soft tissues and joints to help decrease inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, pain may diminish as a result of reduced inflammation. In orthopedics, cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment for chronic conditions such as bursitis, tendonitis, and arthritis to reduce swelling, pain, and joint stiffness.

What is a CT Scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan, also known as CAT scan, produces images that are similar in detail and in quality to an MRI; however, the CT scan takes a 360-degree picture of internal organs and the spine and vertebrae. CT scans provide cross-sectional views of the body and provide clearer imaging than an MRI.

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a steroid injection used to help decrease the inflammation of spinal nerves to help relieve pain in the neck, back, arms, and legs from conditions such as herniated disks, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy. Cortisone is injected directly into the spinal canal, and some patients only need one injection to relieve pain; however, it normally requires two or three injections to provide significant pain relief.

What is a fusion?

A fusion is a procedure in which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods and screws) to heal into a single solid bone.

What is an Internal Fixation?

Internal fixation is a treatment to hold pieces of a broken bone in the correct position with metal plates, pins, or screws while the bone is healing.

What is joint replacement surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is a surgical procedure performed to replace an arthritic or damaged joint with a new, artificial joint, called a prosthesis. Joint replacements can be performed on every joint in the body, but most commonly performed in the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow.


Joints contain cartilage, a soft, rubbery gel-like coating on the ends of bones, where they articulate, that protects joints and facilitates movement and over time, or if the joint has been injured, the cartilage wears away and the bones of the joint start rubbing together. As the bones rub together, bone spurs may form, and the joint becomes stiff and painful. Most people have joint replacement surgery when they can no longer control the pain with medication and other treatments and the pain is significantly interfering with their lives.

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a procedure performed using a safe form of radiation to provide a two-dimensional picture of your body. X-rays are used as a screening tool to evaluate for causes of many common disorders, such as bone breaks, joint and spine injuries or conditions, and arthritis or osteoporosis.

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, commonly referred to as an MRI, is an advanced technology using magnetic fields and radio waves (like microwaves and the AM and FM bands on your radio) to visualize the inner workings of the body.

The pictures produced by MRI help the radiologist clearly and accurately detect and define the differences between healthy and diseased tissues, especially in the soft tissues. It can reveal many health problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.

What are NSAIDs?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are non-prescription, over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains, as well as arthritis and help in reducing swelling, pain, and joint stiffness.

What is osteotomy?

Osteotomy is a procedure to correct bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.

What is outpatient surgery?

An outpatient surgery is a surgery that does not require the patient to stay in the hospital overnight; it is commonly known as an ambulatory surgery. The Orthopedic Group physicians perform outpatient surgery at Springfield Clinic's Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center, A+ rated by the national Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Centers.

What is soft tissue repair?

Soft tissue repair is a treatment to mend or fix soft tissues, such as tendons or ligaments.

Basic Surgery Instructions

0 to 7 Days Prior to Your Surgery

Food & Drink

Please do not consume food or liquids after midnight on the evening prior to your surgery date due to complications associated with anesthesia. This includes mints and chewing gum. Additionally, we recommend that you do not smoke, chew tobacco, or consume alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to your surgery.


Presurgery Hygiene & Dress

  • You may brush your teeth the night prior to surgery, but remember not to swallow liquids after midnight.
  • Jewelry, watches, and body piercings should not be worn on the day of surgery.
  • Do not bring valuables with you. You may wear dentures and glasses. However, it is recommended that you bring the cases to place them in during surgery. If you wear contacts, they will need to be removed, so bring your solution and a case with you.
  • Please wear comfortable, loose clothing, appropriate for the procedure being performed, such as a button front blouse/shirt for shoulder surgery.
  • Please bring flat sole, slip-on walking shoes.

  • Please bring extra undergarments and/or diapers for young children having surgery. If they are taking a bottle, bring an empty bottle as well as a bottle with their usual formula or milk. You may bring their favorite toy or blanket as well.
  • If you have been provided with any medical equipment prior to your surgery date, such as slings, crutches, postoperative shoes, or walkers, please present them at check-in. You may also want to bring pillows and blankets for your trip home.

Medications & Testing

  • Please stop taking all herbal remedies, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naproxen, etc.) seven days prior to surgery unless otherwise instructed. However, it is okay to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) if something is needed for pain.
  • If you are currently taking a prescription blood thinner (Coumadin, Plavix, etc.) on a regular basis for heart problems or stroke, please call your surgeon's office immediately for further instructions.
  • You may take your usual morning blood pressure, heart, acid reflux, and/or seizure medications on the morning of surgery with a sip of water.
  • Do not take any diabetic medicine the day of surgery. However, please make sure to bring your diabetic medication with you.
  • Please provide an accurate list of daily medications when they are reviewing your health history. Continue to take all prescription medications as normal unless informed otherwise by the nursing staff. You will be instructed on which medications to take the day of the procedure.
  • If you experience any health changes, such as an elevated temperature, cold, cough, or other health-related problems, please notify your doctor immediately.

Transportation

As a reminder, you, the patient, will not be permitted to drive a car or leave the Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center or hospital unattended after surgery. It is necessary to make arrangements for a responsible adult or caregiver to drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours following surgery.

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