What is Orthopedic Equipment?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
A person wearing a knee brace.
A person wearing a knee brace.

Orthopedic equipment refers to a variety of structural devices designed to stabilize, protect, and/or correct orthopedic disorders. Many of these devices are available as over-the-counter products that can be purchased wherever medical supplies are sold. Examples include arm slings and generic back braces. Other kinds of orthopedic equipment have to be ordered by an orthopedic physician. In fact, some devices may need to be custom made for an individual to ensure proper fit.

An orthopedic healthcare provider may use an X-ray machine to examine his patients.
An orthopedic healthcare provider may use an X-ray machine to examine his patients.

Orthopedics is a medical specialty that is focused on the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, tendons, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves. This branch of study is named from the combined Greek words ortho and pais, meaning “straight" and “children,” respectively. While many people tend to think that owning or using a piece of orthopedic equipment is a reward for getting old, musculoskeletal disorders can affect anyone of any age. In fact, children can experience a number of problems due to birth defects or sports injuries, such as clubfoot, Kohler's Disease, Sever's Disease, and Sprengel's Deformity.

A woman wearing a wrist brace.
A woman wearing a wrist brace.

Some of the simplest of kinds of orthopedic equipment likely exist in any home medicine cabinet. Ice packs and heating pads, for example, are considered orthopedic therapy tools. The former is applied immediately after an acute injury, such as a sprained ankle. Applying heat to a site of chronic injury, such as a strained muscle, can help to relax underlying tissues and reduce inflammation. However, there are times when an orthopedic doctor may recommend alternating both therapies for certain conditions.

Orthopedic equipment may include back braces.
Orthopedic equipment may include back braces.

Since knee injuries are one of the most commonly experienced problems in orthopedic medicine, there are a variety of different knee braces available. Most knee injuries are related to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. The piece of orthopedic equipment usually recommended for this type of injury is a functional knee brace, which allows the patient to resume many normal activities while protecting the knee. Prophylactic knee braces, on the other hand, are designed to prevent injury. In fact, athletes sometimes wear them for this purpose.

If standard orthopedic equipment fails, an orthopedic surgeon may need to be consulted.
If standard orthopedic equipment fails, an orthopedic surgeon may need to be consulted.

Depending on the nature and origin of the condition, it may eventually become necessary to consult with an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgery is considered when all other treatments fail to relieve a chronic condition, such as arthritis. Some of the most common types of orthopedic surgeries are hip and knee replacement and procedures to replace lost cartilage, such as mosaicplasty. Surgery may also be performed to repair torn ligaments or to improve position and function, as is the case with a lateral release of the patella. Orthopedic equipment, such as a walker or cane, is usually suggested to assist in post-operative recovery from these kinds of procedures.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to InfoBloom is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to InfoBloom is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

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    • A person wearing a knee brace.
      A person wearing a knee brace.
    • An orthopedic healthcare provider may use an X-ray machine to examine his patients.
      An orthopedic healthcare provider may use an X-ray machine to examine his patients.
    • A woman wearing a wrist brace.
      A woman wearing a wrist brace.
    • Orthopedic equipment may include back braces.
      Orthopedic equipment may include back braces.
    • If standard orthopedic equipment fails, an orthopedic surgeon may need to be consulted.
      If standard orthopedic equipment fails, an orthopedic surgeon may need to be consulted.
    • Knee injuries are one of the most commonly experienced problems in orthopedic medicine.
      Knee injuries are one of the most commonly experienced problems in orthopedic medicine.