What is Orthopaedic Trauma?

orthopaedic surgeon

Orthopaedic trauma is an injury to any part of the musculoskeletal system, including the joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. This kind of injury requires specialized care, so if you’ve been injured and there’s any risk that it’s orthopaedic in nature, you’re probably wondering what to do next. Read on to find out what causes orthopaedic trauma, what the symptoms are, and how it’s diagnosed and treated.

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Orthopaedic trauma is most often caused by an accident, such as a car accident, a sports injury or a fall. But it can also be the result of overuse, for example if you’ve been running for long distances. There are some risk factors that increase your risk of having an orthopaedic injury, which includes living an active lifestyle, having bad vision, or having a condition like osteoporosis or arthritis. Being active or having poor eyesight increases your risk of being in an accident, while having some medical conditions make it more likely for your musculoskeletal system to be injured.


These kinds of injuries sometimes have symptoms that are obvious, and sometimes ones that are less so. Most commonly the area that’s been injured will be painful, sore, tender or numb. It can also be swollen, red, bruised and bleeding. The range of motion might be limited, and the body part might be unable to bear weight. In some cases, you might feel a cracking or popping sensation during certain activities or after an accident. The severity of the injury and symptoms can vary. These symptoms can be caused by other injuries and conditions as well, but if you’ve had an accident and your symptoms match those of an orthopaedic injury, then you should consider the possibility that you’ve had an orthopaedic trauma.

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An injury like this requires a fast diagnosis to prevent a worse outcome and make sure you get the right treatment. If you’re experiencing the symptoms described in the previous section, you should see your doctor to discuss your condition. Any doctor will be able to diagnose what kind of injury you have and refer you to a specialist. Methods they might use include x-rays, CT scans and MRIs. 


Your doctor will likely refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon once you’ve been diagnosed with an orthopaedic injury. This is a doctor who specializes in the musculoskeletal system, so they’ll be the best equipped to treat your injury. While they’re called surgeons, they usually don’t perform any major surgeries, and most often they will try to find a non-invasive way to treat your injury. Surgeries that are minimally invasive can be used to repair damaged tissue, while more serious injuries might require bone fracture repairs or arthroplasty. You might be put in a cast, sling or splint, and it’s likely you’d also receive pain medication during your recovery period. Physiotherapy might be required as well. Just like with the causes and symptoms, treatment options can vary greatly.

If you believe you’ve suffered orthopaedic trauma, speak to a doctor as soon as possible. If you’re fine for now, keep this list of symptoms in mind in case of future accidents.