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Orthopedic Vs Orthopaedic. Same, or Different?

Orthopedic Vs Orthopaedic. Same, or Different?
Orthopedic Vs Orthopaedic. Same, or Different?

There is no semantic difference between the words “orthopedic” and “orthopaedic.” They both mean the same thing. The difference is in spelling only.

The spelling difference resembles the usual distinctions between American and British English. British English tends to have additional vowels in certain words, like “color” vs. “colour,’ or “aesthetics and esthetics.”

While the version “orthopedic” is widespread in the US, you will see the other version in the names of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Americal Orthopaedic Association.

To better understand why both of these spelling options are still present, it’s best to look at the history of the term.

The History of the Term

In 1741, Nicolas Andry (usually mistakenly called Andre) was a Parisian physician who wrote a book titled “L’orthopédie ou l’art de préveniet de corriger dans les enfans, les difformités du corps.” Orthopedics got its name from the title of this book.

The idea behind Andry’s work was to describe efficient ways to avoid or correct anomalies in children’s musculoskeletal system. Orthopédie was written as a guide for families and physicians alike.

All the suggested treatments in the book were non-operative because general anesthesia was not available for such procedures.

Andry coined the word Orthopédie by combining two words of the Greek language. “Ortho” means correct or straight and “paideia” which means children’s education. If you take these two words literally, the word Orthopédie would mean “correct/straight children.”

Even the front cover of Andry’s book had an image of a vertical post to which a bent and crooked tree trunk was tied. This was a metaphor for his methods for bracing and bone alignment.

British English took over Andry’s word and turned it into “Orthopædia.” When the word traveled across the ocean to the US and landed into the Webster’s dictionary, it got simplified just like many others. The spelling changed from “orthopaedic” to “orthopedic.”

However, not everybody embraced this simplification readily. Some professionals claim that the extra “a” in “orthopaedic” makes all the difference in the meaning of the word.

For the majority, the choice to use the “orthopaedic” variety of the word reflects the commitment to the origins of the orthopaedics and the classical principles of this medical discipline.

There is a less probable and less logical stance on this issue. It is worth noting, although it is probably not backed by arguments that much.

The stance is that “paedo” refers to “children” just like Andry intended. At the same time “pedo” only means “foot,” which doesn’t cover the entire system “orthopaedics” treat.

What is Orthopedics?

Now that the discussion about the spelling of the word is done, it is time to define orthopedics. Orthopedics is a branch of medicine dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries and other musculoskeletal system conditions.

In other words, orthopedics deals with pulled muscles and broken bones, but also with tendon issues, spinal deformities, and others. Most people will visit an orthopedic specialist at some point in their lives.

What Does Modern Orthopedics Cover?

Contemporary orthopedics involves both surgical and non-surgical treatments. An orthopedic specialist can treat patients by prescribing medication, but also using exercise, physical therapy, and even surgery.

Orthopedic surgery has advanced immensely in the last couple of decades, becoming more efficient and less invasive.

Even though not all orthopedic specialists perform surgery, they are called orthopedic surgeons. An orthopedic surgeon can still diagnose, manage, and treat conditions that affect bones, muscles, and soft tissue like tendons and ligaments.

Furthermore, an orthopedic surgeon can even take part in managing the patient’s rehabilitation process, so the healing is faster and more effective.

What Does Orthopedic Surgery Include?

Orthopedic surgeons are usually specialized for one or more branches of orthopedics. Among others, orthopedic surgery includes:

  • Treating trauma and fractures. An orthopedic surgeon is able to assess all injuries to the musculoskeletal system.
  • Sports medicine. Most athletes sustain injures during their careers. The first medical professional they see is an orthopedic surgeon.
  • Arthroscopy. This procedure involves making a minimal incision near the patient’s joint and inserting an endoscope. Arthroscopy is performed for both diagnostic purposes and for performing surgery.
  • Joint replacement surgery.
  • Arthritis treatment. Patients with advanced arthritis may require surgery besides their regular medical treatment.
  • Specializing in the treatment of a particular part of the musculoskeletal system: hand, foot and ankle, shoulder and elbow, spine, etc.
  • Pediatric orthopedics. Injuries, deformities, and conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system of children.
  • Musculoskeletal oncology. Medicinal care of benign and malignant tumors of the musculoskeletal system
  • Rehabilitation. Planning and overseeing the recovery program of patients after surgery or injury.

It is common for an orthopedic surgeon to be specialized in one part of the body. For example, an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in foot and ankle will use their expertise to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate the patients that suffered deformities, injuries, or other conditions on their feet.

They will still know how to deal with issues present in other parts of your body, but issues with feet will be their forte.

The treatment would not be limited to surgery, but can also involve injections, exercises, and even the latest novelty treatments approved by all the necessary authorities.

  • Saint Louis University
  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • Center of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
  • SSM Health
  • Mercy