orthopedics (ôrthəpēˈdĭks) [key], medical specialty concerned with deformities, injuries, and diseases of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Most of the early advances in orthopedics were made by practicing physicians, many of them surgeons, to correct deformities such as clubfoot and to provide supports for broken or diseased bones. The first institute for correcting skeletal deformities was opened in Switzerland in the 18th cent. The development of bone grafting, the advent of surgical methods for treating fractures, and other advances led to the recognition of orthopedics as a distinct medical specialty by 1920. Clubfoot, the aftereffects of poliomyelitis, fractures, spinal deformities, and arthritic disorders are among the conditions that require the attention of an orthopedist. Treatment provided by an orthopedist may include manipulation, the fitting of braces or other appliances, exercising, and surgery.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.