An orthopedic physician specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This includes the muscles, bones, joints, and all related connective tissues that enable the body to move.
If you have suffered a muscle injury or are experiencing joint pain, your primary care doctor will most likely refer you to an orthopedic doctor. This specialist will thoroughly assess your symptoms, perform a physical examination, and may order imaging tests to diagnose the issue. This way, the doctor will determine which bones, muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons have been impacted.
There is not just one type of orthopedic doctor, there are actually various types of specialties – such as sports medicine. Their area of specialized medicine largely depends on the training they received.
Physician Education and Board Certification
To become an orthopedic doctor, the student must complete undergraduate studies (a bachelor’s degree) plus four years of medical school. After completing these, the student will then continue with a residency program in orthopedics, which will take several more years.
After residency, the student may then participate in a fellowship, during which the new doctor will further hone their skills in a specialized field of orthopedics. This is why a new doctor is usually in their thirties before actually practicing on their own.
The doctor must practice orthopedics for at least two years before being eligible to take a rigorous examination for board certification. If the doctor passes this exam, they will be board-certified in orthopedic surgery.
Once in practice, orthopedic doctors must continue to stay current with the latest in the field of orthopedics and to maintain their certification. If they don’t do this, they may lose patients to doctors who are better equipped with the latest knowledge in orthopedics.
Orthopedic Doctor Training and Specialization
Orthopedic doctors are experts in the musculoskeletal system thanks to their in-depth training during residency. However, many choose to specialize in certain areas of the body, such as the shoulder and arm, back and neck, or hip and knee. Other orthopedic doctors specialize in pediatric orthopedics, sports medicine, surgery, or oncology.
Many orthopedists now employ various therapies to treat musculoskeletal pain. These can include stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, viscosupplementation, ultrasound-guided pain-relief injections, and even physical therapy.
Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Little Rock, Arkansas
Dr. William Hefley is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee, hip, and shoulder conditions and injuries, including sports injuries. As a leading general orthopedist in Arkansas, he utilizes both operative and nonoperative treatment methods – including the latest stem cell therapy and PRP therapy techniques – to treat his patients’ musculoskeletal pain.
Dr. Hefley also performs the most advanced, minimally invasive joint replacement surgical procedures with tremendous success. He practices sports medicine and regularly helps athletes and rodeo professionals get back on their feet more quickly – so they can get back in the game.
If you are seeking new or alternative treatments for your joint pain, call the orthopedic clinic of Dr. William Hefley today at (800) 336-2412 or request an appointment via our online form. Our orthopedic team looks forward to serving you here in our Little Rock facility.