I am asked several of the same questions almost everyday in the office. I would be willing to bet that at least one of these questions is something that you have thought about asking. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you answers, no charge.
“Doc, is it broken or fractured?”
Honestly, I’m not sure how the difference between a break and a fracture of a bone ever started. I’ve asked patients what they mean when they ask this and at least one patient told me that a break was obviously worse. It is a common joke among orthopedic surgeons. The answer, as you might’ve already expected, is that there is absolutely no difference. A break is the same as a fracture.
“Do I have to take my plates and screws out?”
There is no reason to have your hardware removed 99% of the time unless it causes you pain and discomfort. The only exception to this is with children. Kids will continue to grow and will actually cover plates and screws with new bone, making it very difficult to remove in the future.
“Did I get carpal tunnel syndrome from typing at my job?”
There is very little evidence that typing and other repetitive activities cause carpal tunnel. The vast majority of patients develop carpal tunnel for no particular reason at all (idiopathic). There are multiple risk factors that may contribute, include several medical problems.
“Did all the sports I played when I was a kid give me arthritis?”
Unless there was a specific injury that occurred while playing, sports are usually not responsible for causing arthritis. Unfortunately, research has shown that genetics are often the most important reason for developing arthritis of joints. In other words, thank your parents!
“When do I need to get my joint replaced?”
I actually had a patient tell me once that another surgeon told him he had to get his shoulder replaced. My response was, “Do you want a shoulder replacement?” A joint replacement (shoulder, hip, knee, ankle) is a completely elective procedure that is purely the choice of the patient. Benefits must outweigh risks. Nobody makes this decision but you. That being said, when your lifestyle has changed to the point when you are not able to enjoy your life due to pain and you have exhausted all forms of nonoperative treatment, a decision to have a joint replacement is often easy.