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Orthopaedic Problems in the United States

  • Musculoskeletal symptoms were the number 2 reason for physician visits.
  • Back Problems: Approximately 21 million visits were made to physicians' offices due to back problems in 2006, including more than 8 million visits for low back problems.
  • Knee Problems: Approximately 12 million visits were made to physicians' offices due to knee problems in 2006.
  • Shoulder Problems: Almost 7.5 million visits were made to physicians' offices due to shoulder problems in 2006.
  • Work Loss Days: Currently employed workers in the United States miss nearly 440 million days of work because of musculoskeletal injuries.

Orthopaedic Services

The University of Tennessee Medical Center Orthopaedic department in Knoxville, TN provides all levels of orthopaedic and rehabilitation care for our patients. As the only Level 1 Trauma Service in East Tennessee, we provide expert orthopaedic trauma care for patients in addition to general orthopaedic services for the treatment of all conditions related to the musculoskeletal system.

Our team of surgeons, surgical staff and orthopaedic staff are called upon to care for the most critical patients, as well as those who need care for shoulder, hand, spine, foot and ankle or total joint replacement. We utilize state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to provide one of the best options for orthopaedic care in East Tennessee.

What is orthopaedics?

Orthopaedics is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of our body's musculoskeletal system. This system that allows you to move includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.

The University Orthopaedic Surgeons at UT Medical Center treat musculoskeletal conditions with medications, exercise, and physical therapy. For most orthopaedic diseases and injuries, there is more than one form of treatment. However, if patients do not respond to treatments, then the surgeon also may recommend surgery.

Why we call it 'orthopaedics'

The Greek roots of the word "orthopaedics" are ortho (straight) and pais (child). Early orthopaedists often used braces or other forms of treatment to make a child "straight" by treating children suffering from spine and limb deformities. Once devoted to the care of children, today’s orthopaedists now care for patients of all ages, from newborns to young athletes to seniors.

Your Orthopaedic Surgeon

At UT Medical Center, University Orthopaedic Surgeons will manage the conditions of a patient’s musculoskeletal system. Patients should first make an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to receive a diagnosis of the injury or disorder.

While the University Orthopaedic Surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many of these surgeons specialize in certain areas such as the hand, shoulder, foot and ankle, spine, hip or knee. Some of the surgeons specialize in several areas. Click here to go to the University Orthopaedic Surgeons website to determine which surgeon best fits your needs.

Your visit with your orthopaedic surgeon will include a personal interview of your personal health history and physical examination. This may be followed by diagnostic tests such as blood tests, X-rays or other tests. Your orthopaedic surgeon will then discuss your diagnosis and treatment options and help you decide the best plan for you so that you can live an active and functional life.

Treatment Options

Treatment options may include one or more of the following:
  • Treatment with medication, exercise, surgery or other treatment plans
  • Rehabilitation by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength and function
  • Prevention by providing information and treatment plans to prevent injury or slow the progression of the disease or condition

Consider these details for the treatment options.

  • Medications and Injections
    There are many medications or injections that can be prescribed to treat pain and symptoms of the musculoskeletal system. Upon examination and review of your condition, the physician can determine if this is a treatment option for you.
  • Physical Therapy
    UT Medical Center offers both inpatient physical therapy and outpatient physical therapy. Outpatient physical therapy can be prescribed to assist patients with restoring movement and improving strength and function to injured or diseased areas of the body. Outpatient physical therapy may be used as the only treatment or be prescribed for preparation before and recovery after surgery. Inpatient physical therapy is provided to inpatients after surgery to assist patients with adapting to their surgical process and assisting with a return to normal functioning.
  • Surgery
    Orthopaedic surgeons perform numerous types of surgeries. Common procedures include the following. 

    Arthroscopy - a procedure using special cameras and equipment to visualize, diagnose and treat problems inside a joint

    Fusion - a "welding" process by which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods) to heal into a single solid bone

    Internal Fixation - a method to hold the broken pieces of bone in proper position with metal plates, pins or screws while the bone is healing

    Joint Replacement (partial, total and revision) – removal of an arthritic or damaged joint and replacement with an artificial joint called a prosthesis

    Osteotomy - the correction of bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone soft Tissue Repair - the mending of soft tissue, such as torn tendons or ligaments.