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Orthopaedic trauma is any severe injury to the bones, joints, and/or soft tissue that is caused by an external source. These injuries are often the result of a sudden incident, such as a car accident or fall, but not always. Trauma can also be caused by overuse – for example, running long distances is a common cause of tibial stress fractures, small hairline cracks in the lower leg.

The definition of orthopaedic trauma is broad because it encompasses a spectrum of injuries, from simple hairline fractures to life-threatening accidents. While there are many different types of traumatic orthopaedic injuries, the goal of surgeons who specialize in this area is the same – to restore the function of the injured body part(s) as quickly and effectively as possible.

Common Causes of Orthopaedic Trauma

Risk of Orthopaedic Injury

Some people are more likely to suffer traumatic injuries than others. An older adult with osteoporosis, a condition that reduces bone density, is more likely to break a bone when they fall compared with a healthy young adult.


Orthopaedic trauma surgeons work in both hospitals and private practices to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate injuries of the musculoskeletal system. In the ER, a general trauma surgeon is primarily responsible for resuscitating and stabilizing a patient with life-threatening injuries. An orthopaedic trauma surgeon will be on standby or on call to manage trauma to the bones, joints, and soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons).

Despite having “surgeon” in their title, orthopaedic surgeons will only use surgical treatments if necessary. Non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, rest, and supportive braces/casts, may also be effective for certain traumatic injuries.

Dr. Atul Patil


Consultant Orthopaedic

Spine & Joint Replacement Surgeon

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