Orthopedics deal with musculoskeletal system. Apart from fractures, it deals with so many other afflictions that affect bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and other tissues of the system.
Any branch of science evolves constantly. More it evolves, potential for further expansion and betterment increases.
Fracture treatment has evolved with time as we got to know detailed steps and process of fracture healing, importance of early joint movement etc.
Because bones are structural elements which are associated with support, mobility and other functions of living, when they are broken, there is loss of associated functions and inability to use that part.
This loss of function, which is not apparent enough can have quite a devastating effect on morale and livelihood of the person injured.
Not a very long time back, a fracture meant immobilization for 8-12 weeks and in some cases up to months altogether. But as the science evolved and better understanding of the fractures developed, the treatment protocols changed.
Orthopedics does not have a very long history to boast. Earlier it was a part of specialization called Surgery. It gained recognition in two world wars we fought. It was then we understood and developed trauma management.
Fractures were treated mostly by conservative (read non operative methods) by that time. Only indications for surgery were infection, open wounds or amputations.
In the era that followed, orthopedics did major advances in surgical treatment of fractures and other orthopedic ailments. This lead to invention of implants. New inventions and discoveries are still being made. Right now orthopedics is buzzing with activity like never before.
New treatments are being discovered, new implants are being designed and patients are getting better rehabilitation than they were.
We have definitely become better. We are able to mobilize patients earlier and faster. Complication rate has reduced due to better grasp on the functional understanding of locomotor system.
Every advancement also brings new challenges and currently orthopedics is facing many challenges. One of the reason is the expectation of both the physician and patient to do the undoable and achieve the unachievable.
We are venturing into areas hitherto untouched. We are looking for solutions that are not only easy to apply, make patient upright sooner and last longer.
Treatment of elderly, regeneration of nerve tissues, spinal cord injuries, treatment of the bone loss, better prosthetics and orthoses, treatment of congenital abnormalities are few of the challenges to name.
Another major change that has happened is the emergence of subspecialities in orthopedics. That, promises more progress in every sub-niche.
A lot of hope is also pinned on stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
Mobility is of paramount importance. Life without movements is difficult to imagine and live. Orthopedics has come a long way from the era of prolonged immobilization to early mobilization
There is a lot to look forward to.
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