Frequently Asked Questions

Click the questions below to see the answer!

What is an orthopedic surgeon?

An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. At Orthopedic Specialists, our doctors are orthopedic surgeons who specialize in the spine, shoulder, elbow, hand, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle.

What is a physician assistant (P.A.)?

Physician assistants are licensed healthcare professionals who practice medicine under doctor supervision. As part of the doctor/P.A. team, P.A.s diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Their focus is patient care, which may include education and administrative activities. Physician assistants can also write prescriptions.

What does the term total joint replacement mean?

Total joint replacement means replacing both sides of the weight-bearing surfaces of the affected joint. In the knee, it means replacing both the thin cartilage surface on the lower joint surface, which is the tibia, and the upper joint surface, which is the femur. The joint surface under the kneecap is also replaced. This requires removing the thin cartilage surface and a thin surface of bone for replacement with an artificial implant. At Orthopedic Specialists, our surgeons specialize in reconstruction and replacement of the hip, knee, and shoulder joints.

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a modern method of performing surgery inside the joint through very small incisions. The incisions are usually about a quarter of an inch in length with two or three incisions per joint as necessary. A tiny video camera is attached to the end of a long, thin microscope, which is placed through the incision. Other long, thin, frequently modernized instruments are used to perform surgery inside the joints. Knees and shoulders most commonly benefit from arthroscopic surgery, but other joints such as the ankle, hip, and wrist may also be done.

Why can’t you eat before surgery?

It is advised that you do not eat anything after midnight of the evening before your surgery as the anesthetic causes your body’s reflexes to temporarily stop. This means having food in your stomach during surgery could lead to vomiting or aspiration. Learn more about surgery preparation.

How long should you ice an injury?

Ice should be applied as soon as possible after an injury and should only be used for short periods of time for around 10-15 minutes, but no longer than 20 minutes.

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of a tendon leading to pain or discomfort. Common types of tendonitis include tennis elbow and DeQuervain’s.

What is a tendon?

A tendon is a fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone and aids in movement.

What is a ligament?

A ligament is a fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone and helps hold structures together and keep them stable.

What causes muscle cramps?

Muscle cramps can be caused by a wide variety of things from dehydration to overuse of a muscle to being in the same position for a long time. Sometimes, muscle cramps can be caused by an underlying health condition. 

What is sports medicine?

Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with the treatment and prevention of injuries and health conditions resulting from sports or physical activity.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy helps restore the function of our patients after injury, surgery, and illness. It can help patients experience improved mobility and movement, pain relief, and better balance. Learn about our physical therapy services!

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

Please bring your driver's license or a photo ID, your insurance information, and a copay if needed.

How do I make an appointment?

You can either request an appointment online or by calling (515) 955-6767.

Does it matter which provider I see?

 You can select a provider best suited to care for your specific needs on our provider page or you may call (515) 955-6767. We can assist you in finding the best provider for you!

What is the difference between M.D. and D.O.?

There are two types of medical schools: Allopathic, to obtain a doctor of medicine degree (M.D.), and Osteopathic, to obtain a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree (D.O.). Both have the same educational background and length of study and must pass state licensure requirements and examinations to practice medicine.

What does a Physician's Assistant (PA) do?

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine with teams of physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They help to examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

What insurance plans do you accept?

We participate in most major insurance plans including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Medicare, United Health Care, and United Health Care River Valley MCO. Get more information on insurance and billing.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery utilizes small medical instruments and cameras that allow doctors to perform surgeries with smaller incisions than traditional surgery. This can help lead to faster recovery times and less scarring. 

How long do artificial joints last?

In general, artificial joints can last more than 15-20 years. However, this depends on individual factors such as weight and activity level.

What is revision surgery?

In some cases, artificial joints may need to be replaced. This is known as revision surgery

Do I use ice on my injury? Do I use heat on my injury?

Check out our article “How to Know if you Should use Heat, Ice or Both” to learn more about injury treatment.