Caregiver Resource: Orthopaedic Surgeon

Posted by Hilary Young on May 23, 2014

Caregiver Resource: Orthopaedic Surgeon

In the latest installment of our Caregiver Resource series, we spoke with Dr. Adam Bitterman, an Orthopaedic Surgeon.  

Dr. Adam Bitterman, D.O.

I am an orthopaedic surgeon and my main focus is the musculoskeletal system.  My job is to keep you active and doing the things you enjoy.

Orthopaedic surgeons do not always operate.  We are capable of taking care of injuries to muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments without surgery.  Working along side rehabilitative specialists and therapists, care plans can be formulated to exhaust all conservative measures prior to performing an operation.   Unfortunately, not every condition or injury can be treated conservatively.  In those cases we must have a lengthy discussion with the patient and draw out the surgical plan as well as the risks, benefits, and alternatives. 

My colleagues and I can take care of patients across all age groups, with a variety of concerns.  Many subspecialties do exist.  Orthopaedic surgeons may seek extra fellowship training in areas such as pediatrics, oncology, joint reconstruction, foot and ankle, sports medicine, upper extremity, or spine surgery.  Some orthopaedists choose to be a general orthopaedist while others see patients in the office only and choose a non-operative career.  Here’s what you need to know: 

Orthopaedic surgeons care for fractures resulting from falls or higher energy trauma.  Not every broken bone requires a surgical procedure in order to be fixed.  In fact, some may need gentle manipulation to recreate the appropriate anatomical alignment before being casted in place.  You will receive our care until adequate healing is seen and appropriate function is regained.

Joint pain is a common complaint that orthopaedists handle on a daily basis.  Not all joint symptoms are created equal, though.  It is important to mention all aspects of your symptoms to your specialist.  Systemic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disease processes are better handled by a rheumatologist.  As patients age, their joints tend to lose the natural cushioning and support that was provided from birth.  This condition, known as osteoarthritis, does not always need an operation to fix.  It is important that the affected joint have appropriate muscular support above and below.  Nonoperative treatment including lubricant injections as well as steroid shots into the affected joint may help alleviate the discomfort.  Also, physical therapy may be beneficial for early stage osteoarthritis. 

If the pain has increased to the point where your daily activities are affected and you can no longer live your life the way you were, then you may benefit from a joint replacement surgery.  Commonly performed in centers throughout the US, total hip and knee replacements remove arthritic bone fragments from your affected joints and replace them with metal implants.  The next day patients are able to move about and begin their rehabilitation program towards a complete recovery.  Although post-surgical pain is expected, patients are encouraged to get out of bed and ambulate in order to prevent any complications. Other joint replacement implants available include elbow and ankle prostheses.

Muscle aches and joint pains associated with recent activities can be handled with non-operative care and conservative management.  First and foremost, ice serves as a phenomenal adjunct and can help decrease the swelling.  Also, anti-inflammatory medications provide similar relief by chemically limiting the resultant inflammatory response.  One must keep in mind that no medicine is benign and certain anti-inflammatory agents may cause more harm, particularly in those individuals with underlying gastrointestinal problems.  Support stockings and braces as well as appropriate shoe wear are excellent additions for treating lower extremity aches especially involving the knee.

Orthopaedic surgeons promote a healthy lifestyle through motion and activity.  Remember to have the appropriate supervision when participating in sports or activities.  Consult your primary medical doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for certain activities.  Be sure to tell your doctor about any additional medications you take.

Adam Bitterman, DO is an Orthopedic Surgery Resident in Long Island. Dr. Bitterman is the CEO and co-founder of JAMB Innovations, a dynamic concierge mobile medical application development company. For more information, go to www.jambinnovations.com.  Follow Dr. Bitterman on Twitter:  @BittermanJAMB


TAGS: orthopedic surgeon for older patients