Knuckles, knees, and four other fun ortho facts


Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?


While the popping sound may sound like it is causing harm to your fingers, cracking your knuckles does not actually increase your chances of developing arthritis. The habit is mostly harmless (the worst that could happen is a reduction of grip strength over time).


So what causes the popping sound? It’s a result of bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid, the liquid that lubricates your joints.


If the popping is accompanied by pain, have it checked out by an orthopedic hand specialist.



How successful are knee replacements?


In all of medicine, knee replacements have one of the highest percentages of success. In fact, 85 percent still function 20 years after surgery. Compare that track record to automobiles, where less than 10 percent are still on the road after 20 years.



How many years does it take to become a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon?


It takes about 14 years to become a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, which includes four years of undergraduate studies, four more years in medical school, five in a residency program, and one in fellowship.


As an example, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who begins practicing in 2021 would have started college in 2007. Which seems like eons ago when you think about it. George W. Bush was president, the space shuttle program still had 18 missions to go, Bob Barker was still the host of The Price is Right, and Apple introduced the very first iPhone.



Can shoulder pain be caused by a heart attack?


Yes, shoulder pain can sometimes originate from body parts other than the actual shoulder joint itself, including the heart.


Sudden left shoulder pain can be a symptom of a heart attack, although shoulder pain by itself probably doesn’t suggest this. Heart attacks usually include other symptoms such as chest pain, faintness, shortness of breath, and sweating.


Other body parts that can cause shoulder pain include (in no particular order) the neck, lungs, gallbladder, spleen, liver, and pancreas.


If you are uncertain about the cause of your pain, seek immediate medical attention, especially if you have risk factors for heart disease.



Are there any famous orthopedic surgeons?


Of course! However, many became famous for something other than orthopedics. One of whom is Frederick G. Banting, the youngest ever Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 at the age of 32.


After studying orthopedic medicine, training as an orthopaedic surgeon, and teaching orthopedics at a university, it was actually the discovery of insulin that made him famous.



Where does the word “orthopedics” come from?


The word orthopedics — sometimes spelled orthopaedics — comes from two Greek words: orthos (straight) and paideion (children). The word was originally used in 1741 by Nicolas Andry, a French physician, as the title of his book, Orthopédie, which focused on childhood musculoskeletal deformities such as polio and scoliosis.


Andry included this illustration of a crooked sapling in his book, a simplified version of which continues to be used as symbol for orthopedics by several organizations.


The word’s meaning has since been broadened to include the treatment of bones, joints, and muscles in people of all ages.


Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center does not endorse any treatments, procedures, or products referenced on this page. The content is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult a medical professional.

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