The disease panorama of orthopaedics and hand surgery
Orthopaedics examines damage and diseases that affect musculoskeletal organs. Orthopaedic injuries can be caused by trauma, some orthopaedic diseases are degenerative and diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation of congenital conditions is also a large area.
A trauma can result in fractures and soft tissue damage. Within orthopaedics, we treat life-threatening injuries that are the result of traffic accidents or falls from a height, often defined as “high-energy injuries”. Orthopaedic trauma also includes the more common falling injuries – those that primarily affect children and the elderly and are often referred to as “low-energy injuries”.
Degenerative diseases make up a large area of orthopaedics and include osteoarthritis – joint disease – and tissue-related pain in the neck, back and extremities. More unusual conditions of the musculoskeletal system, such as infections, tumours and congenital diseases may also require knowledge of orthopaedics. Inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may also require orthopaedic treatment. Orthopaedics also assess and treat strain injuries that often are the result of occupational or sports injuries.
Changes to the orthopaedic disease panorama
Orthopaedic injury and diseases affect people of all ages. However, low-energy and degenerative changes mainly affect older individuals. As the average life expectancy in Sweden has doubled over the past 200 years, so has the number of elderly in society. Thanks to an active lifestyle well into old age, there are many more injuries and wear that are a direct consequence of sport or other physical activities. The changing social demographics and shift towards more active lifestyles has resulted in an increase of individuals with orthopaedic ailments – and this trend is expected to increase.
Historically, research in orthopaedics and hand surgery has led to fantastic and clearly noticeable results for large patient groups. For example, take artificial joints, fracture surgery or re-attachment of fingers that have been cut off. Two generations ago, these treatments were more science fiction than fact.
Our research aims to continually improve diagnosis and treatment of patients affected by the injuries and diseases mentioned above, and to systematically evaluate new treatment methods. Our unit conducts research in several areas, from trauma and osteoarthritis to paediatric orthopaedics and hand surgery. We use diverse methods, depending on the topic. Everything from translational research on cultivated cells or animals, clinical studies on patients to large-scale epidemiological research on extensive patient groups.
These pages present an overview of the various research projects ongoing at the unit for orthopaedics and hand surgery. Fortunately enough, we are a very active unit with many enthusiastic doctoral students and senior research group leaders. In recent years we have produced many exciting research results, which have received a lot of media attention.
Nils Hailer, email@example.com, Professor of Orthopaedics