What is Orthopaedic Medicine?

Orthopaedic Medicine is not Orthopaedic Surgery.

You might say it is everything but. Orthopaedic Medicine encompasses virtually any therapeutic modality intended to help problems with the structural framework of the human body – the bones, soft tissue, and the joints. (“Soft Tissue”, while softer than bone, is nonetheless very strong. Soft tissue includes ligaments, tendons, muscles and fascia). Orthopaedic dysfunction accounts for the majority of pain complaints and disability, as well as other health problems. Orthopaedic Medicine involves medical management of such conditions by any and every means available, short of surgery. Certainly surgery when necessary, but not necessarily surgery, one might say.Orthopaedic Medicine covers a wide-ranging (and growing) array of diagnostic and therapeutic skills. Some are practiced by other health care practitioners, such as chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Some can only be performed by an MD or DO. For example, there are many, many schools and techniques of manipulation. Chiropractic is perhaps the best known. However, Osteopathy, which originated over a hundred years ago, about the same time as chiropractic, also offers a comprehensive approach to manual medicine, yet is quite different in many ways. In the USA, where it originated, graduates are as fully qualified as MD’s, and in addition have training in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. In other countries, the emphasis is exclusively on the manual skills, and while they turn out highly skilled manipulators and healers, they do not have training nor accreditation as physicians.

The CAOM would like MD’s in our own country to have available to them the knowledge and skills to treat their patients with the techniques of manual medicine. While other practitioners do make a wonderful contribution to the healing arts, we feel a physician has the unique position – and responsibility – to fully utilize all the diagnostic and therapeutic tools available, including the vast resources of Western Medicine. Unless and until we are able to bring an understanding of manual medicine back into mainstream medicine, Western Medicine will sorely lack the comprehensiveness it asserts.

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What is Orthopaedic Medicine?  What methods of treatment are there?  What conditions does orthopaedic medicine treat?