General Orthopaedic Treatments for Hip and Knee Conditions in Pretoria
While the term general orthopaedics should certainly include the treatment of certain disorders of the joints in the hip and knee, in Pretoria and in any major city, the role of those who choose this discipline tends to be more far-reaching. Typically, the responsibility of these specialists will also extend to the diagnoses and the medical or surgical treatment of the various conditions that may affect the bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves associated with the functions of the various components of the musculoskeletal system.
While surgery can certainly play a significant part in the treatment process, it actually tends to account for no more than half of the treatments employed overall in the field of general orthopaedics, while in Pretoria hospitals and elsewhere, total and partial hip and knee replacements are most often undertaken by practitioners within this discipline who have elected to specialise in the procedure known as arthroplasty. Still others might choose to focus on some area of special interest, and perhaps to confine their activities to the treatment of one or two specific components of the skeletal system, such as the spine, the hands, or the feet.
In practice, however, the title of general orthopaedic surgeon, whether operating in Pretoria and involved in hip and knee replacements or not, describes a job that has many facets and possibly the broadest scope of any medical discipline. During the course of an average day, these practitioners may be called upon to deal with a variety of traumatic conditions, ranging from fractured limbs and dislocations, to sprains, strains, and torn ligaments. Also, within their purview is the treatment of pulled muscles, injuries to tendons, and ruptured discs.
In addition to the treatment of injuries such as these, the role of these healthcare specialists also extends to the correction of musculoskeletal abnormalities, such as scoliosis, bow legs, knock knees, club foot, and hammer toes.
In the past, orthopaedics was less general than today. Elective procedures, such as the hip and knee replacements like those regularly undertaken at the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria, were not even dreamed of and until as recently as the late 18th century, much of the focus of practitioners was directed at the treatment of fractures and attempts to straighten the spines of malformed children. In fact, the name of this discipline derives from the Greek words “orthos” and “paedi”, which literally translate as correct or straight child. It is, however, the elective procedures rather than the trauma cases that have been on the increase in many hospitals.
Advances both in the surgical techniques involved and the materials from which the prosthetic components are made have served to place arthroplasty among the most successful surgical interventions of our times. In practice, this high success rate has proved to be particularly fortuitous given that the demand for both partial and total prostheses has been growing steadily in recent years. Arthroscopy is most frequently performed on patients with osteoarthritis in which the smooth cartilaginous covering on one or more of the articulating surfaces of the bones in a joint becomes eroded, causing them to experience pain due to friction and restricted mobility.
Although typically not regarded as general orthopaedics, the elective knee and hip replacements at the above Pretoria facility are carried out by Dr Jan De Vos who, in addition to his role in treating the hospital’s trauma cases, is the elected president of the South African Arthroplasty Society, the founder of the South African National Joint Registry, and active in related research. His achievements in this specialised field have resulted in the hospital’s arthroplasty unit gaining the status of a major centre for both South African and international referrals.