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Diagnosis & Treatment of Orthopedic Conditions

The Orthopedic and Sports Medicine team specialists at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health diagnose and treat a wide variety of orthopedic conditions and sports-related injuries—from joint pain to osteoarthritis to bone tumors. Our board-certified specialists provide the full spectrum of care.

Diagnosing orthopedic conditions

Our experts diagnose and treat complex orthopedic conditions every day, and you benefit from their knowledge and experience. In addition to a physical examination to assess motion, stability and strength, the orthopedic specialists will talk with you about your health history and the extent of your pain and ability to function. The orthopedic specialist may also order the following tests to better understand your symptoms: 

  • Bone scan: During a bone scan, you’re injected with a small dose of radioactive material that gathers in the bones and is detected by a scanner through nuclear imaging. This extremely sensitive test may aid in the diagnosis of bone tumors, arthritis and infections.
  • X-ray: A quick, painless test that produces images of the structures inside your body. These images help to determine the extent of damage or deformity of your joints. 
  • Other tests: Occasionally blood tests or noninvasive advanced imaging, such as a CT scan or MRI scan, may be needed to determine the condition of the bone and soft tissues surrounding the joints.

Treatment options

Our orthopedic specialists offer the following treatments and surgeries for orthopedic conditions and sports-related injuries: 

  • If you’ve been living with ankle arthritis and chronic pain not alleviated by medication, total ankle replacement may be for you. During a total ankle replacement, the surgeon makes an incision in the front of the ankle and removes damaged bone and joint cartilage. The remaining bone is then reshaped for the attachment of the new metal joint and polyethylene spacer. Usually, a total ankle replacement is completed without the need for an overnight hospital stay. Most people return home the same day to begin recovery.

  • Not everyone who has knee pain will require a knee replacement. We work to control arthritis symptoms without surgery for as long as is reasonable. For people who need surgery, advances in design and materials over the last several decades allow for a comfortable, secure fit of these implants even in younger, active adults. Our orthopedic specialists use advanced methods for controlling pain. For knee replacement surgery, this includes a continuous nerve block technique called the "adductor canal catheter" that not only reduces pain, but also maintains muscle strength in the leg, which is critical to recovery.

    Partial knee replacement

    Candidates for partial knee replacements are adults 40 to 60 years old who are in good health and who have exhausted conservative measures for managing their knee pain. The surgery involves a shorter incision than total knee replacement, commonly on the inside half of the knee, which exposes the damaged bone surface and cartilage.

    Total knee replacement 

    Candidates for a total knee replacement are usually middle age or older and have exhausted all conservative methods for controlling their knee pain. The goal of a total knee replacement is to eliminate pain and restore the natural movement of the knee. A total knee replacement is a major surgical procedure performed in the operating room. A total knee replacement implant usually consists of two parts made of chrome cobalt, titanium alloy and polyethylene plastic.

  • Candidates for hip replacement surgery are typically middle age or older and are experiencing limitations in their daily activities because of pain and loss of function. Our orthopedic surgeons perform more than 1,200 hip replacements annually. Many people return home the same they have their hip replacement surgery to begin recovery. 

    Our surgeons specialize in:

    • Partial hip replacement
    • Bilateral hip replacement
    • Anterior-approach hip replacement
    • Resurfacing of the hip joint
    • Revision or repair of previously implanted hip joint

    A traditional hip replacement consists of four parts:

    • A metal socket shell
    • A socket liner
    • A new "ball" to replace the head of the thigh bone (femur)
    • A stem that secures the ball within the thigh bone

    These components are made of durable titanium alloy, cobalt-chrome alloy, ceramic or polyethylene plastic. The ball is connected to the stem with a special taper junction, giving the surgeon more flexibility in determining the right fit for each person. Your surgeon will choose the device that best meets your needs based on your own unique anatomy and the degree of degeneration in your joint.

    While total joint replacement has historically been a painful surgery, the anesthesia used is designed to provide better pain control and promote a faster recovery with fewer complications.

  • Our orthopedic surgeons routinely perform shoulder replacement surgery for people with joint degeneration or fracture caused by osteoarthritis, trauma, infection, sports-related injuries or the natural wear and tear of aging. They also specialize in partial shoulder replacement, reverse total shoulder replacement and bilateral shoulder replacement surgery.

    For people with pain, loss of strength and limited range of motion, shoulder replacement surgery can make a world of difference in their quality of life. A shoulder replacement restores strength and range of motion in the arm while reducing stiffness and pain. The anesthesia delivered to people undergoing shoulder replacement is designed to promote faster recovery with fewer complications than traditional methods of pain control.

Are you a candidate for joint replacement surgery?

People who may benefit from joint replacement surgery have:

  • Osteoarthritis, a disease that causes a gradual deterioration of the joint, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack tissues surrounding the joints
  • Injuries, such as fractures, that can weaken muscles and put strain on the joints
  • Severe daily joint pain, stiffness or instability that restricts or limits work, recreational activities or even daily activities at home and doesn’t respond to medication

Robotic arm-assisted joint replacement

If hip or knee pain is keeping you from the activities you love, it may be time to consider total hip replacement, total knee replacement or partial knee replacement, also called partial knee resurfacing. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s St. Clare Hospital was the first in the South Sound to offer robotic arm-assisted total knee, partial knee and total hip replacement. Robotic arm-assisted surgery uses a CT scan and software to generate a 3D virtual model of your unique anatomy to help your surgeon create a personalized preoperative plan. When preparing the bone for the implant, the surgeon guides the robotic arm within the predefined area. This helps provide more accurate placement and alignment of your implant. During surgery, the surgeon makes any necessary adjustments in real time, while the robotic arm allows the surgeon to execute the plan with a high level of accuracy and predictability. 

Learn more about robotic arm-assisted surgery for: