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Orthopaedic surgeon

Orthopaedic surgeons specialise in surgical treatments for problems caused by disease and injury (trauma) in the bones, joints and other structures involved in making the body move.

Most orthopaedic surgeons specialise in particular procedures or areas of the body. Some surgeons also have specialist experience in certain diseases.

Your rheumatologist will generally be familiar with the surgeons in your area and will refer you when necessary to a surgeon with the relevant specialist interest.

How can I be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon?

You’ll be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon by your rheumatologist if other treatments aren’t providing enough pain relief.

You may also be referred by your GP or by a physiotherapist directly through physiotherapy assessment services provided by the NHS.

How can an orthopaedic surgeon help me?

Offering advice on surgical procedures

Orthopaedic surgeons will discuss the available surgical options. They'll advise you on the potential pros and cons of having or delaying surgery, taking into account your age, health and level of activity.

The surgeon will also give you advice about other treatments (where appropriate), explain the benefits and risks of each method and the likely outcome if you decide not to have treatment.

Performing surgical treatments

Some treatments offered by orthopaedic surgeons include:

  • joint replacements
  • surgical fusion of a joint
  • keyhole surgery to remove bone and cartilage debris
  • fixing of fractures resulting from injury or osteoporosis
  • repairs or reconstructions to tendons or ligaments.

Most people with arthritis won’t need surgery, and being referred to an orthopaedic surgeon doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely have orthopaedic surgery.

You’ll always have the final decision on whether to go ahead with surgery or not.


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