When to See an Orthopedist Doctor

orthopedist in dallas
Table of Contents

What is an Orthopedist?

Orthopedic doctors (also known as orthopedic surgeons) are doctors that specialize in the care of your bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and tendons (the tissue that connects bones and joints). This is known as the “musculoskeletal system”. There are more than 200 bones in the human body, so this is certainly a specialty that’s in demand. 

Orthopedists diagnose and treat injuries resulting from physical or sports activities. They also help manage conditions that worsen over time. Joints that have dislocated. Back or hip pain. Arthritis – a disease that affects the joints and affects half of seniors age 65 and older. All of these common illnesses, whether acute, chronic, or degenerative, belong under the umbrella of orthopedics. Orthopedic doctors in Dallas also help patients with pain and discomfort from overuse injuries (using a muscle or joint too often). Our orthopedist doctors at SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy offer their orthopedic expertise to those in the Dallas and Frisco areas. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 469-200-2832.

What Does an Orthopedist Specialize in?

An orthopedist specializes in musculoskeletal injuries and diseases and is particularly qualified to diagnose, treat, and aid recovery from an infection, sports injury, bone fracture, osteoarthritis or other degenerative condition, or bone tumor. Following medical school, they may get orthopedic surgery training or pursue further education in a specific field such as sports medicine, joint replacement, hand, or foot and ankle surgery.

From a sprained ankle to a more involved surgical procedure like a total shoulder replacement or hip replacement surgery, an orthopedist can help. Orthopedic doctors specialize in treating the hand and wrist, foot and ankle, knee, shoulder and elbow, neck, back, and hips.

An orthopedist who sub-specializes in treating a specific part of the body is a great choice for a patient. That’s because sub-specialists have specific knowledge and experience in their specialty area. As a result, they have the tools to work through complex and high-risk cases. 

A non-surgical orthopedist may be the best first choice for patients without a definite diagnosis. Not to mention, many orthopedic conditions can be treated without surgery. If surgery is a necessity, they refer patients to an orthopedic surgeon or include a surgeon in the care plan. 

Seeking out an orthopedic surgeon when your diagnosis or suspected diagnosis might include surgery is a wise step – and may save time and money. Sub-specialization is very important when surgery is part of the treatment plan. Maybe you’re wondering, “Can neck pain cause headaches?” Seeing an orthopedist can help you answer this question.

Do You Need a Referral to See an Orthopedic Doctor?

Whether or not you need a referral can be confusing to determine. It really depends on your specific insurance plan, so let’s talk about that. 

Even if you go to a specialist, PPO plans do not require a referral before treatment. However, you should check with the doctor’s office ahead of time to find out if there are any specific requirements. Some specialists may want you to see your primary care physician first. Although PPO plans do not require referrals, some services may require prior authorization before your claim can process or treatment provided.

On the other hand, your primary care physician (PCP) is your first point of contact if you have an HMO plan. Should your PCP be unable to provide the care you need, they will refer you to a doctor who can. In most cases, an HMO plan will not cover the bill if you didn’t get a referral first. If you don’t have a PCP, you’ll need to pick one. 

Be sure to contact your insurance provider first to check whether a referral is required before you seek treatment from an orthopedic specialist or whether a referral you already received is still valid. The phone number for your insurance company is printed on your insurance card.

A final note, also make sure that the specialist you see is in your physician network – you don’t want unexpected bills and out-of-network charges! 

Primary Care Sports Medicine Physicians vs. Orthopedic Surgeon

Primary care sports medicine physicians are family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatric physicians with specialized training in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of musculoskeletal diseases and sports-related ailments such as concussions and dehydration. As such, they provide nonsurgical treatment for injuries such as strains and sprains, overuse injuries, and broken bones. They also perform in-office procedures such as joint injections for arthritis. You will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon if you need surgery to best treat your condition or injury.

On the other hand, an orthopedic surgeon utilizes both non-surgical and surgical treatments for injuries and disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system. They complete orthopedic surgery training after medical school and may also seek additional training in a focused discipline such as joint replacement, sports medicine, or hand or foot and ankle surgery. After surgery, you will be referred to a Dallas physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist, to help you regain your strength, balance, and range of motion.

How Can an Orthopedist Help Me?

Orthopedists don’t always recommend surgery to treat bone and joint problems – that’s a common misconception. Surgery is usually the last resort. An orthopedic doctor typically tries medication, physical therapy, and all other effective, non-invasive treatment options before recommending surgery. If conservative treatment doesn’t relieve your pain and other symptoms, your physician is qualified to perform minimally invasive or complex procedures such as arthroscopic surgery and ankle, knee, shoulder, and hip replacements.

When To See an Orthopedic Doctor

It’s time to see a doctor if you’ve recently been injured or suffer from persistent pain. You could be debating whether a visit with your primary care physician is best or if you should go straight to a specialist. However, depending on the nature of your injury or health problem, going straight to a specialist – such as an orthopedic doctor – can save you time and money. Just check with your insurance company first!

You may be unsure whether joint difficulties or pain in your muscles, joints, or bones warrants a doctor visit. However, if you are experiencing chronic pain, an inability to perform daily duties, a limited range of motion, difficulty walking or standing, or if you have a sprain or other soft tissue injury that hasn’t improved in 48 hours, you should see your doctor.

What To Expect at Your Orthopedic Appointment in Dallas

Here’s what you can expect from your appointment with an orthopedic specialist in Dallas once you’ve made the decision to see one:

  • Paperwork – Expect to fill out documentation about your symptoms, medical history, and insurance, as with every first-time doctor’s appointment. By providing proof of previous diseases and treatments, your primary care physician can assist you.
  • Exam – Your orthopedist will get to know you and your medical history. They’ll then look at the areas that are causing you pain or discomfort. Tests for limb strength and range of motion may be part of the exam.
  • Additional Tests – If your orthopedic doctor can’t pinpoint the problem during the initial examination, they may order tests. Such tests often include x-rays and MRIs to help narrow down the problem.
  • Treatment Plan – Treatment can begin once your orthopedic specialist has diagnosed the condition. Non-invasive treatments, such as oral or injectable medicine, at-home exercise, and physical therapy, can treat many injuries. Your orthopedist will devise a treatment strategy that is unique to you, including surgical treatment options if necessary.

Orthopedic Doctors in Dallas, Texas

If you need an orthopedist in Dallas for medical treatment for an injury or condition, we want to see you. Stop living with pain and schedule a consultation today. Call SPORT at (469) 200-2832 or fill out our online intake form. Are you in pain today? We can schedule an orthopedic urgent care Dallas visit for you the same day to give you quick and effective treatment.