With each passing year, technology is becoming more and more advanced. Remember how impressed we were with the first smartphone? If we were to hold that thing in our hands today, we’d probably laugh at how limited it is in comparison to what we’re currently using. There are plenty of other examples of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, but the area we will focus on right now is how technology has improved orthopedics.
While there’s still no cure for certain orthopedic problems such as arthritis, medical professionals have found new and creative ways to treat the condition, making it feel almost completely healed for the patient afflicted by it. This is especially true for inflammatory-based arthritis. It’s actually quite impressive seeing all of the innovations in orthopedic medicine and equipment, so let’s take the time to go in-depth on what is available for physicians to use to help their patients overcome these issues.
Ways of Reducing Pain
Not as many advances have been made for reducing pain since many patients want to attempt to get rid of the problem rather than simply treat it, but some patients don’t have painful enough orthopedic issues to warrant extreme measures. In the past, the only real way to treat pain was through medication.
However, the introduction of cryotherapy has opened up a new treatment option, which is pain reduction through the application of cold air. It’s currently most commonly used for migraine treatment, but you can also use it on arthritic patients. This is done by localizing the area of pain or swelling and using cold air to reduce those symptoms.
It’s obviously not a permanent solution, but it can significantly reduce or even temporarily remove the pain that the patient is experiencing. So if this is an area of orthopedic development that you are interested in, be sure to check out our Zimmer medical equipment to see if this is an option you would like to give to your patients.
Improved Diagnostics and Surgical Imaging
When surgery is the best option, the more prepared a surgeon can be beforehand, the better the results will be. Thanks to 3D imaging software, preparations are easier than ever; looking at 2D scans can only give you so much information. Even if you take it from multiple angles, there will be something that gets missed or overlooked.
Now that we have tech that can turn scans into an accurate 3D image, surgeons can better plan out implant positioning and understand the individual’s musculoskeletal system. Given enough time, we will even be able to make this process fully automated, making it quicker and more accurate than it already is.
Procedural Improvements To Surgeries
There are many different kinds of surgeries that you can do for orthopedic patients. One of the more common ones is joint replacements. Not too long ago, medical professionals would actually use cement to replace removed bone from a patient’s body. These days, the replacement is made out of crystals or similar types of coating that have tiny holes all over it, kind of like a normal bone. This allows the bone to bond with the added material more directly, leading to a more permanent solution than we ever had with cement.
When doing disc replacements for patients, hospitals now recommend using dynamic stabilization devices instead of the more static ones of the past. These fit in the patient’s body more naturally since everyone’s bones are shaped differently. This will increase the user’s mobility when compared to older methods.
Surgeons are also able to reduce the invasiveness of surgeries by performing them through smaller incisions. Depending on the surgery in question, the cuts needed could be as much as five times smaller than they used to be. This is done by using tubular retractors, endoscopes, and computer-guided navigation systems.
While surgeon still does all of the work in these scenarios, the use of robots for surgeries is becoming more prominent as the technology for it advances. Even though it will be a while until robots fully take over the surgical world, it is getting highly tested because patients who have them done are reported to have shorter recovery times and fewer complications. Using these robots is still extremely expensive, but it can be worth it to hospitals that have to deal with a very dangerous procedure that might be too difficult for their surgeons to handle properly. We’ll just have to wait and see how this technique develops.
Ever since the aforementioned invention of the smartphone, many pieces of tech have been getting the “smart” treatment, and those in the medical field are no exception. The latest one is smart implants. These devices can give surgeons real-time information when they are getting positioned and update them on how it’s doing after the surgery in case there are any complications. They can even treat some post-operation issues themselves, like infections.
Acceleration of Healing Process
Although they used to be surrounded by a lot of controversies, the use of stem cells in medicine has come a long way. One of the more recent types to be used is known as mesenchymal stem cells, which are found within the bone marrow of all human beings. They normally get used for making our blood, but scientists have been experimenting with them in order to make them do so much more.
Bone fractures, spinal disc issues, tears in ligaments and tendons, and problems with articular cartilage are some of the main troubles that medical professionals have been using stem cells to heal. We’re sure there will be more to come in the future, but this is an excellent start for this kind of research.
Like we mentioned when talking about disc replacements, not all patients are built the same way. Body shapes vary from person to person, which means that our final innovation in orthopedic medicine and equipment deals with patient-specific problems. You can most easily handle these with the use of 3D printing.
The number one way it’s utilized is to make metal implant molds that will fit the patient perfectly. Occasionally, a medical instrument won’t be well-suited for the job. In that case, a new one can be made to allow for better precision on that patient. There is even a way to create tissue and simple internal structures for surgical repair using something known as bio-ink. It’s crazy what people can do with 3D printing, and with the direction things are going, the options are growing exponentially.