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What is Orthopedic Surgery?

At our private Kelowna-based surgery clinic, we encounter a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, including injuries, trauma and deformity of the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.

Orthopedic surgery is a highly specialized area of medical practice that addresses the aforementioned conditions and requires extensive training and experience. According to the Canadian Medical Association, there were 1,509 physicians across Canada specializing in orthopedic surgery in 2013, or an average of 4.3 orthopedic surgeons for every 100,000 people.

Due to the highly specialized nature of this profession, Okanagan Health Surgical Centre (OHSC) is pleased to offer some of British Columbia’s best orthopedic surgeons.

Orthopedic surgery spans a wide range of surgical procedures, as this surgery is used to treat many different kinds of musculoskeletal problems. At the OHSC, we focus on 3 key areas in orthopedic surgery:

When is orthopedic surgery necessary?

Typically, surgery is used as a last resort after other treatment options, such as physiotherapy or medication, have failed to improve the problem. This type of surgery may also be the recommended solution for sudden and severe musculoskeletal injuries.

What are the signs you may need surgery?

After monitoring your condition, your doctor will likely recommend surgery for a serious, unresolved issues that impair your daily functioning.

Indicators for orthopedic surgery include:

  • Persistent pain that is not relieved by medication
  • Difficulty moving the limb or getting around
  • Increasing damage or deformity of the area in question
  • Damage or injury to other muscles and joints as a result of the original problem
  • Inflammation or infection, characterized by redness, tenderness or swelling

What are the types of procedures for orthopedic surgery?

Orthopedic surgery includes a variety of different procedures to treat damage to the knees, shoulders, feet, and ankles.

Common procedures in these categories include:

Knee Surgery

  • Knee Arthroscopy: In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the knee and inserts a small camera called an arthroscope. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to examine and correct any damaged tissues. Since the incision is small, most patients make a quick recovery and are able to return to most  regular physical activities within 8 weeks.
  • ACL Reconstruction: For cases of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, the surgeon replaces the damaged ligament with a healthy one from another area in your body or a donor. This procedure requires a longer recovery time of 2 to 4 weeks before you can put weight on it and around 6 months for full recovery.

Shoulder Surgery

  • Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery: Similar to Knee Arthroscopy, this procedure uses an arthroscope inserted into the shoulder via a tiny incision. Using the arthroscope, the surgeon can precisely repair any damage in the shoulder.  Recovery from this procedure typically takes a couple weeks.
  • Open Shoulder Surgery: Major damage in the shoulder may require Open Shoulder Surgery, a comprehensive procedure that involves removing damaged tissues around the shoulder and refining the bone if needed. Recovery times for this type of surgery can range from 6 to 12 weeks, with an additional 3 to 6 months of rehabilitative care to strengthen the surrounding arm muscles.
  • Foot and Ankle Arthroscopy: For small areas of damage or an initial assessment of the potential damage, this procedure is ideal, using a small incision and precise arthroscope to identify and correct the problem. Recovery from this procedure typically takes about 4 to 6 weeks. 
  • Foot and Ankle Fusion Surgery: This procedure is frequently used for patients with a degenerative disease in the feet or ankles, such as arthritis. The surgeon will remove the damaged joint, and then join two healthy joints together using specially-designed plates. Patients must avoid placing any weight on the area about 8 to 12 weeks as the area needs time to fuse together and be sturdy enough to handle the weight.
  • Achilles Tendon Repair: In this common surgery, the surgeon repairs a torn Achilles tendon by joining the torn sections together and inserting a graft to promote healing. The recovery time usually requires a period of up to 8 weeks wearing a cast or brace, with additional time needed for rehabilitation.
  • Calcaneal Osteotomy: When the calcaneus (more commonly referred to as the heel) bone has fractured and healed incorrectly, a surgeon may perform this type of procedure. A Calcaneal Osteotomy involves a carefully controlled break of the damaged heel bone to encourage proper healing and correct bone alignment. This procedure is involved, so full recovery can range from 3 to 6 months.

As always, it is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully for post-operative care after your specific orthopedic surgery, as recovery times and recommended activities will vary for each patient’s unique situation.

Orthopedic surgery can provide effective relief for individuals suffering from the reduced mobility and pain of a musculoskeletal condition.

For a consultation on whether orthopedic surgery is an option to cure a persistent musculoskeletal condition for you or a loved one, contact the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre today at: 250-868-9799.

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