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What Do Orthopedic Surgeons Do? SIO’s Dr. Garrett Moss Explains

  • Oct 12 2021

When you have an injury to a bone, joint, or muscle, your first impulse may be to visit your primary care physician or even head to the emergency room. Although doctors in either setting may diagnose and treat the injury or pain, they will likely refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for further treatment.

Such a referral may have you asking, “What do orthopedic surgeons do, and why do I need one?” Seeing an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t automatically mean you need surgery. Surgery is only one option that orthopedic specialists have to choose from — and despite their title, most only recommend surgery once less invasive options have failed to alleviate pain, restore function, or repair damage.

That’s certainly the case for Dr. Garret Moss, the newest board-certified surgeon to join the South Island Orthopedics team. At his practice in Rockville Centre, NY, Dr. Moss is committed to trying non-surgical alternatives to help patients recover. A general orthopedics practitioner (and accomplished athlete himself), Dr. Moss is committed to helping people remain as active as possible for as long as possible, which may entail everything from physical therapy and medication to eventual surgery.

An Overview of What Orthopedic Surgeons Do

Although accidents, including sports-related injuries, are a common reason for patients to see orthopedic surgeons, certain chronic conditions can also benefit from seeing them, including :

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bursitis
  • Tumors
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain; for example, pain in the back, shoulder, hip, or knee that has lasted longer than 12 weeks

In general, you should see an orthopedic specialist whenever pain or stiffness affects mobility, interferes with your daily activities, makes walking or standing difficult, or results in pain that does not improve after several days of at-home treatment.

So what do orthopedic surgeons do for patients? According to Dr. Moss, the first priority is an accurate diagnosis.

Many factors go into a correct diagnosis of orthopedic conditions, but the first and foremost is a thorough patient history, which can often be overlooked,” he says. “This is accompanied by a thorough physical exam. Orthopedic diagnosis often requires imaging, and we will usually perform an X-Ray in the office.”  Dr. Moss notes that advanced imaging tests like MRIs may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and develop the proper treatment plan in more complex cases.

And again, surgical treatment is rarely the first course of action. Dr. Moss says that in most cases, patients undergo an array of treatment options before surgery, including:

  • At-home exercises
  • Ergonomic recommendations
  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bracing and/or orthotics
  • Steroid injections

“Only if these conservative treatment methods fail to alleviate the patient’s symptoms do we consider surgery like joint replacement,” notes Dr. Moss.

Orthopedic Surgery Options

When you visit an orthopedic doctor for treatment, there’s always a possibility that surgery will be necessary. Surgeons in this specialty perform various procedures, but many specialize in a particular joint or type of surgery. Dr. Moss, for example, primarily performs hip and knee joint replacements and arthroscopic knee surgeries.

Other common types of orthopedic surgical procedures include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery to repair and reconstruct a torn ligament in the knee
  • Arthroscopic surgery, which orthopedic surgeons often use to get a better view inside of a joint to determine what, if any, further intervention is needed
  • Bone fracture repairs
  • Debridement to remove damaged or diseased tissue or bone
  • Joint fusion
  • Spinal surgery to relieve pressure on nerves
  • Spinal fusion surgeries
  • Spinal disc replacement

But again, Dr. Moss stresses that surgery isn’t the only thing orthopedic surgeons do and that it’s often the last resort. He prioritizes an accurate diagnosis to inform the treatment plan and only advises surgical intervention when everything else fails.

Get to Know Dr. Moss

Dr. Moss recently returned to South Island Orthopedics after five years as the Director of Adult Reconstruction at Catholic Health Services of Long Island Mercy Medical Center. Although he grew up in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Moss is a native of New York, and has been a practicing orthopedic surgeon since completing his fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Moss holds bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and economics from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School. He earned his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and completed his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

When he’s not seeing patients, Dr. Moss is a long-distance runner and has completed several marathons, as well as an Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, NY. He also spends time keeping up with his active family, including catching some waves in the Rockaways as well as exploring the vineyards and wineries of eastern Long Island.

Make an Appointment with Dr. Moss

If you have been injured or have chronic musculoskeletal pain, make an appointment to see Dr. Moss at the new Rockville Centre, NY office of South Island Orthopedics. Dr. Moss is a board certified surgeon whose practice offers care in general orthopedics as well as community trauma, and specializes in hip and knee pre-arthritic and arthritic care.  As with SIO’s offices in Cedarhurst and Woodbury, NY, patients can expect the same friendly, homelike environment and exceptional care they’ve come to expect.

“Patients can expect friendly, competent staff greeting them with a smile,”  Dr. Moss says. “I spend as much time as necessary with each patient to complete a thorough medical history and physical exam.  While we cannot always guarantee an immediate diagnosis, we will explain in clear terms the next steps necessary in the diagnosis and treatment plan.”

To request an appointment, click here. Or, you can call the Rockville Centre office directly at (516) 665-9200.

South Island Orthopedics’ Guide to Bone and Joint Care

Posted in: General & Pediatric Orthopaedic Care