The Life-Saving Role of Orthopedic Trauma Surgery

The importance of orthopedic trauma surgery

Orthopedic trauma surgery is an essential medical field that plays a critical role in treating patients with musculoskeletal injuries, particularly those caused by trauma. Here are some reasons why orthopedic trauma surgery is important:

  • Restoration of Function and Mobility: Orthopedic trauma surgery focuses on restoring function and mobility to the affected area. This helps patients to regain their independence, return to work, and resume their daily activities.
  • Prevention of Long-Term Disability: Early intervention and appropriate treatment by an orthopedic trauma surgeon can prevent long-term disability and minimize the risk of chronic pain and functional limitations.
  • Treatment of Complex Injuries: Orthopedic trauma surgeons are trained to treat complex injuries, including those involving multiple fractures, joint dislocations, and soft tissue injuries. Their expertise allows them to develop personalized treatment plans that consider the patient’s overall health, lifestyle, and specific injury.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Orthopedic trauma surgery can significantly improve the quality of life for patients by reducing pain, restoring function, and improving their mental health and well-being.
  • Emergency and Trauma Care: Orthopedic trauma surgeons play a crucial role in providing emergency and trauma care for patients who have suffered serious injuries, such as car accidents, falls, and sports-related injuries. Their timely intervention can often mean the difference between life and death.

What qualifies as Orthopedic Trauma

Orthopedic trauma is any severe injury to the bones, joints, and/or soft tissue that is caused by an external source. These injuries are often the result of a sudden incident, such as a car accident or fall, but not always. Trauma can also be caused by overuse – for example, running long distances is a common cause of tibial stress fractures, small hairline cracks in the lower leg.

The definition of orthopedic trauma is broad because it encompasses a spectrum of injuries, from simple hairline fractures to life-threatening accidents. While there are many different types of traumatic orthopedic injuries, the goal of surgeons who specialize in this area is the same – to restore the function of the injured body part(s) as quickly and effectively as possible.

Common Causes of Orthopedic Trauma

Most often, traumatic orthopedic injuries are caused by:

  • Falling
  • Being involved in a car or motorcycle accident
  • Physical violence
  • Being injured while playing a sport (basketball and football have the highest number of orthopedic injuries)
  • Natural disasters

Factors That Increase the Risk of Orthopedic Injury

Some people are more likely to suffer traumatic injuries than others. An older adult with osteoporosis, a condition that reduces bone density, is more likely to break a bone when they fall compared with a healthy young adult.

Treatment: What Does an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon Do?

Orthopedic trauma surgeons work in both hospitals and private practices to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate injuries of the musculoskeletal system.

In the ER, a general trauma surgeon is primarily responsible for resuscitating and stabilizing a patient with life-threatening injuries. An orthopedic trauma surgeon will be on standby or on call to manage trauma to the bones, joints, and soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons).

Despite having “surgeon” in their title, orthopedic surgeons will only use surgical treatments if necessary. Non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, rest, and supportive braces/casts, may also be effective for certain traumatic injuries.

Preventing Traumatic Orthopedic Injuries

Accidents happen, but there are some simple things everyone can do to reduce their traumatic injury risk.

  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving
  • Always wear a helmet when biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.
  • Wear the appropriate safety gear when playing contact sports
  • Stretch and do a warm-up exercise before working out or playing a sport to prevent muscle injury

Those at a higher risk of injury, either due to a condition that weakens the bones or causes a loss of balance, may need to take additional precautions.

  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes with good traction to avoid tripping or slipping
  • Use night lights to prevent tripping over objects in the dark
  • Add small ramps to entryways and areas with raised flooring

Overall, orthopedic surgeons play a crucial role in saving lives by helping patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries, preventing long-term disability, and improving quality of life for their patients.

About SRO’s Orthopedic Trauma Team
Our fellowship trained orthopedic trauma specialists provide expert care for patients with severe musculoskeletal injuries and related complications, and in many cases serve as a regional resource for other physicians challenged by these complex orthopedic cases.