Traumatology is a specialized medical discipline that focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of serious, acute physical trauma, like what’s experienced in a car accident or physical injury. Understanding more about different medical fields of study can be beneficial if you need to see a certain type of doctor. It can also be helpful if you or a family member want to explore specializations within this field.
This article explains what a traumatologist is, their role, subspecialties, and how to find one near you! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this important medical profession.
The Definition of Traumatologist
A traumatologist is a physician who specializes in traumatology. They research, diagnose, and treat traumatic conditions that affect the bones, muscles, tendons, and joints. These specialists are trained to treat traumatic motor system injuries, which might require surgical procedures or interventions.
The Advantages of Traumatology
Traumatology, like other specialties, provides healing and therapeutic benefits for a variety of conditions. Some of them are listed below:
Muscle or bone damage caused by trauma (car accidents, falls from significant heights, gunshot wounds, high-risk sports injuries)
Low-intensity injury treatment (contusions, falls, low-risk sports injuries)
Preventing potential injuries caused by external or internal sources
Therapy for degenerative disorders
Injury monitoring until a patient achieves an adequate mobility level
Surgical intervention and care for relevant injuries
Musculoskeletal health improvements
What’s the Difference Between an Orthopedist and a Traumatologist?
They’re fairly similar medical specializations with a significant difference: while many orthopedists can treat simple fractures, orthopedic traumatologists have received additional training in the treatment of critically injured patients.
To provide the best care for their patients, orthopedists frequently collaborate with orthopedic surgeons, radiologists, and physical therapists. Orthopedists address issues like general wear and tear, spine and foot deformities, and more.
Orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating clinical and surgical injuries such as sprains, fractures, and dislocations. They can also treat non-traumatic conditions like those encountered in orthopedics.
10 Disorders a Traumatologist Can Treat
Generally, traumatology focuses on areas like the hips, wrists, hands, spine, elbows, shoulders, feet, knees, and ankles. Orthopedic surgeons treat a range of disorders such as:
Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects the wear and tear of the cartilage located at the end of the bones that provides cushioning, mainly affecting the hands, knees, spine, and hips.
Tendinitis. The inflammation or irritation of the tendons, occurring most frequently in the shoulders, wrists, elbows, heels, and knees.
Fractures. Any type of injury involving a broken bone, mostly present in high-impact accidents.
Sprains. When ligaments surrounding a joint are torn or stretched more than they should be. This often happens in the neck, knees, and ankles.
Lower back pain. This pain can become acute and may be caused by overexertion.
Fibromyalgia. People who suffer from this condition have an extreme sensitivity to pain. They generally suffer from pain throughout the body that can make it hard to sleep or concentrate.
Osteoporosis. This disease decreases bone density. More fragile bones fracture more easily in areas like the hips, spine, or wrists.
Kyphosis. Generally, this is caused due to weak vertebrae, causing an exaggerated forward curvature. It’s typical in older people and more common in women.
Scoliosis. Generally diagnosed in adolescents, scoliosis affects the spine and causes a lateral spinal deviation. It can range from mild to severe, with the latter being the most incapacitating. Surgery is sometimes required.
Herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when all or part of a disc is driven through a weaker area. This may strain adjacent nerves or even the spinal cord.
Other conditions that traumatologists can treat
The field of traumatology also covers the following issues or diseases:
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
When should I see a traumatologist?
If you’re experiencing problems with your bones, muscles, joints, or tendons, consult a traumatology specialist for assessment and treatment. Consider the following warning signs or symptoms:
Joint pain so severe that you can't move
Unsuccessful treatment of joint pain or injury
Previous arthritis diagnosis
Sports injury with pain that lasts several days that seems to be getting worse
- Impact accident where pain in the affected area doesn’t go away
Keep in mind: If you’re unsure where to go for treatment, consult a general practitioner for a specialist referral.
Different Types of Traumatology
Traumatology also includes subspecialties that focus on certain areas of treatment. Below are some examples.
Pediatric traumatologists focus on musculoskeletal disorders in infants, children, and adolescents. This includes evaluation, diagnosis, therapy, and follow-up. A pediatric traumatologist is also qualified to perform surgery.
Problems with the motor system in children can differ greatly from those in adults. That’s why medical boards require separate specializations in pediatrics to ensure the necessary expertise and training.
Forensic traumatologists investigate bodily injuries caused by blunt force trauma, such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, physical causes (heat, electricity, or cold), and chemical factors (poisons, gasses, or vapors).
A forensic traumatologist investigates, analyzes, interprets, and anticipates injuries that resulted in an individual's death, such as homicide, suicide, or other causes. A forensic traumatologist also investigates circumstances of violence or physical hostility where the patient hasn’t died.
These specialists focus on preventing, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating injuries that athletes sustain. One of the major benefits of seeing a sports medicine specialist as an athlete is that you’ll be able to return to practice as soon as possible and in the best possible condition.
In terms of prevention, this doctor advises athletes on how to minimize the likelihood of injury during exercise or training. They are prepared to treat:
Elbow and shoulder retinopathies
Knee cartilage conditions
Knee ligament tears
Traumatologists specialized in knee injuries study, diagnose, treat, and monitor injuries that may affect knee mobility and integrity. These conditions are relatively common and can be caused by high-impact sports, excessive weight lifting, degenerative diseases, and more.
How Can I Find an Orthopedic Surgeon Near Me?
The easiest and fastest way to find an orthopedic surgeon near you is to use the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) search engine. You can search by state, city, or zip code.
Another option would be to use Google Maps and search for "orthopedic surgeon'' to find medical institutions near you that offer this specialty. You can also consult the map of trauma centers in the U.S. provided by the Trauma Centers Association of America (TCAA).
Keep in mind: Given the often elevated cost of healthcare, it’s strongly advised you have the proper insurance to cover your medical bills, regardless of your ailment or condition.
Orthopedic surgeons for undocumented immigrants
Receiving medical care as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. can be complicated, especially since Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not offer federal coverage for this group of people. However, California and New York have begun to offer limited medical services regardless of immigration status.
Other ways to obtain medical assistance are:
Purchasing PODERsalud's SEP+ membership for as little as $16.95 per month!
Purchasing private insurance, which can be expensive
Paying out of pocket for a doctor’s visit and covering costs of the consultation, exams, and medications yourself
Attending community health centers, which are obligated to provide services to any person either for free or a low cost
To locate the community centers closest to you, use the following directory
Visiting hospital emergency rooms. The law states that every hospital must provide necessary medical assistance to someone who arrives at the emergency room regardless of immigration status. This option isn’t free and is often costly.
Through emergency Medicaid. If the person is low-income, they may opt for the above option through Medicaid
Keep in mind: Children who are citizens or reside legally in the country with undocumented parents can opt for Medicaid, the CHIP program, the insurance marketplace, reduced co-pays, and premium tax credits.
How Much Does a Traumatologist Cost?
In the United States, consultations with an orthopedic surgeon usually range from $150 to $500. First you have to see an internist or family doctor, which can cost up to $100, and then get an orthopedic surgeon referral. We recommend the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)’s price search and comparison site.
To see a general practitioner who can refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, we recommend joining PODERsalud, the healthcare membership that gives you unlimited access to online medical consultations.
How to Prep for Your First Appointment
The most important thing is to bring your medical history. This allows the specialist to better understand the reason for your appointment and monitor your case more accurately.
You can follow the National Institute of Health’s advice, as well as referencing the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAOS). These institutions suggest that you:
Make a list of the questions and concerns you have, in order of priority
Confirm if you need to present an insurance card or referral
Consider arrival time, how far away it is, and how to get there
If you’re on any medications, write down everything you’re taking and the respective dosages
Make a list of past surgeries, allergies, and family medical history
If you or the patient wears glasses and/or hearing aids, don't forget them on the day of the appointment
If you aren’t fluent in the language spoken by the doctor, try to arrange for an interpreter to accompany you (many doctors’ offices can provide this service; contact them ahead of time)
Consider bringing a friend or family member
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