What is Orthopedic Trauma?

Orthopedic trauma occurs when any part of the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) is damaged due to injury. Common causes include athletic mishaps, auto accidents, severe falls, or work accidents. Whatever the reason, these sudden and acute injuries require timely, expert evaluation and care from an orthopedic trauma specialist.

What are Common Orthopedic Trauma Injuries?

In most cases, orthopedic trauma involves the treatment of fractures. These can range from single hairline fractures to multiple broken bones at once. Likewise, their impact can be minor or completely life-altering depending on severity. Types of fractures that may be evaluated and treated by an orthopedic trauma specialist include:

  • Stress fractures – Small fractures that occur due to overuse. A typical example would be hairline fractures of the tibia in runners.
  • Open fractures – Breaks where the bone penetrates the skin.
  • Closed fractures – Breaks where the bone does not penetrate the skin.

In addition to these types of broken bones, trauma specialists also frequently work with dislocated joints.

How is Trauma Different than General Orthopedics?

While a general orthopedist can successfully treat many injuries, important distinctions make a trauma orthopedist ideal for more severe injuries. Orthopedic trauma surgeons have undergone additional in-depth training specifically focused on traumatic injuries. This training makes them exceptionally equipped to handle complicated cases with skill and deliver the best possible patient results.

Do Traumatic Orthopedic Injuries Always Require Surgery?

While an orthopedic trauma surgeon is professionally trained to treat even the most severe cases, which may require one or more extensive surgical procedures, most cases do not require surgery at all. Still, patients can benefit from the trained eyes of a trauma specialist throughout the treatment and rehabilitation processes.

When Should I See an Orthopedic Trauma Specialist?

If you have an orthopedic injury that requires emergency care, the hospital will have you evaluated by a trauma physician. However, even if your situation is not severe enough to warrant a visit to the ER, you may still need an orthopedic trauma specialist. If you suspect a broken bone or dislocated joint after an accident, a fellowship-trained trauma orthopedist can use their extensive knowledge and specialized training to fully evaluate your condition and provide the treatment that will result in the best healing and least amount of complications possible.

Dr. Arthur E. Hess

Dr. Arthur E. Hess earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology and Mathematics from the University of Dallas. He graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans in 2009, where he was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, received the Louisiana State Medical Society Alliance Foundation Scholarship for outstanding academic performance, and honored with the George A. Adrouny Award which is presented to the medical student who received the highest marks in Biochemistry. In 2014, Dr. Hess completed his residency training at the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program. During his residency, he served as the Chief Orthopaedic Surgery Resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and earned the Executive Committee Award for the highest cumulative score on the Orthopaedics In-Training Exam (OITE). Following his residency training, Dr. Hess completed a fellowship in Orthopaedic Trauma at the University of Maryland’s prestigious R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, the first and only integrated Trauma Hospital in the United States which is involved in innovative research and medical procedures for treating the severely injured.

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Dr. Arthur Hess

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