Orthopaedics is the branch of medicine dealing specifically with the treatment or correction of diseases or deformities of the bones, tendons and atrophied muscles. Orthopaedic surgeons are qualified doctors specializing in this field of medical treatment, using appropriate medication, often in conjunction with surgery.
Orthopaedic surgeons treat diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomyelitis, rickets, Paget Disease and osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). They may refer patients to rheumatologists who specialise in treating patients with tendonitis, rheumatic conditions and arthritis.
Some surgeons work specifically on mending broken bones while others choose to specialise in such areas as foot and ankle orthopaedics, orthopaedic sports medicine, paediatric orthopaedics, adult reconstructive orthopaedics, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopaedic spine surgery, hand surgery and orthopaedic trauma.
An orthopaedic surgeon restores functions through surgery, due to disease or injury, to the ligaments, tendons, joints, bones, nerves and muscles, but may also use physical, medical and rehabilitative methods when necessary. They often use laser surgery to trim, or remove torn cartilage in the knee or other injured areas. Arthroscopic surgery scopes out areas for treating muscular disorders or damaged joints and is minimally invasive surgery. A surgeon commonly uses shoulder arthroplasty on shoulder fractures that are often sports-related or found on patients suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, which replaces the ball-and-socket joint.
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.
Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who would naturally be given preference.
MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN:
Specialisation in OrthopaedicsTo specialise in this area, a number of years of post-graduate study will be required.
Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205, Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300
Fax: (012) 328-5120
South African Orthopaedic Association
P O Box: 12918
Tel: (051) 430-3280 Fax: (051) 430-3284