Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Orthopaedic & Spine Problems

What are the most common types of orthopaedic conditions?

Back and spine problems and injuries are the most frequently requested concerns at the Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center and Hospital.

Is surgery the typical treatment for most chronic back and spine conditions?

No, in most cases, Emory Spine Center physicians can help patients get back to normal without surgery.  The Emory Orthopaedic and Spine Center provides a collaborative consulting process that reviews all viable options for a patient's treatment.  If you are in doubt, seek out our trusting physicians and let them get you back on the road to recovery and living a pain-free life.

What is a herniated disc and does it require surgery?

A disc is a structure of cartilage shaped like a doughnut that acts as a shock absorber between two bones, allowing for a full range of motion. The disc is composed largely of water. As we age, there is water loss and problems can occur. A sudden pressure caused by improper lifting or bad posture can also cause the disc to rupture.

Rest and pain medication will usually heal the disc naturally. Other treatments include cortisone injections or injections of chymopapain, an enzyme that destroys portions of the disc. In some cases, surgery may be required if a disc fragment dislodges into the spinal canal and presses on a nerve, potentially causing loss of mobility.

How can I keep my bones healthy and avoid orthopaedic problems?

Bone minerals are composed heavily of calcium. During periods of bone growth, between 10 and 20 years of age, calcium should be a critical dietary component or supplement, with at least 1300 mg. per day recommended. In addition, older individuals begin to lose bone minerals past the age of 35. Calcium supplements and exercise can help minimize this loss.  See Orthopaedics and Spine Care Tips for more information.

What is the difference between a sprain and a fracture and how can I tell which one I have suffered?

A fracture is a break in a bone, which can result from an accident or other traumatic injury. A fracture rarely includes surgery and is usually treated by immobilizing the bone with a cast or a splint, which allows the broken bones to grow back together.

A sprain is an injury of the ligaments, the rubber-band like tissues that connect bones together. When the ligaments are stretched past their normal range of motion, the result can include swelling and severe pain.

A sprain will heal with rest, but a fractured bone must be set to heal.

What causes Arthritis?

There is a layer of tissue called cartilage that covers the end of the bones at the juncture of each joint and acts as a shock absorber. Over time, the cartilage can wear away and the joints can then become achy, swollen and sore. This condition is called arthritis. Arthritis is the leading chronic condition of the elderly, but can develop at any age.

What are the most common injuries in the workplace?

Back injuries account for the largest number of disabling injuries in the workplace.  Laborers, truck drivers, stock handlers, nursing aids are jobs where disabling injuries most often occur. However, other 'office job' related injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition of the nerve from the wrist to the thumb side of the hand.  It is caused by repetitive forceful movements, such as working at a keyboard. Other jobs which are especially prone to this condition include dental hygienists, meat-cutters and machine operators.

What are the symptoms of bone cancer and how is it treated?

Tumors of the bone are caused by abnormal cell growth and can be cancerous or benign. Sometimes cancers originate in other parts of the body and metastasize, or spread to the bone. Symptoms of bone cancer include bone pain, chronic pain in joints or limbs and brittle bones that fracture with little or no stress. In some cases, a lump may be noticeable.

Treatments for bone cancer include chemotherapy and radiation. In addition, surgery is sometimes required and involves removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. If bone is removed, it is replaced with a donor bone or prosthesis.

FAQs about Hospital Stay

Will I be sharing my room with another patient?

No. Each room at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital is a private suite and includes a cable TV, phone, Internet access and a pullout sofa chair for overnight guests. Meal room service is available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and is delivered within 45 minutes of placing your order.

What items should I bring with me when I check in?

Bring personal comfort items, such as sleepwear and toiletries. Also bring medical information including a list of your medication(s) and your allergies, your insurance information and copies of your advance directives, if you have them. Also, bring personal identification such as your driver's license.

What do I need to know regarding checkout?

Your health care team will work with you and your family to plan a safe discharge for you. Discharge time is 9:00 a.m. Please arrange for a family member or friend to pick you up at the medical office building entrance. Also, prescription medicine will need to be filled by an outside pharmacy.

A Note to Our Medicare Patients: If you think you are being discharged too soon, you can talk to the hospital staff and your doctor about your concerns. If you want to appeal, you must contact the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) before you leave the hospital by calling 1-800-982-0411, ext. 3413.

How can my friends and family members get in contact with me?

Visitors are welcome 24 hours and can contact guest services by calling 770-491-8037. In addition, mail and even flowers can be delivered to your room. Please ask your friends and relatives to include your full name and suite number.

Are kosher or vegetarian meals available?

We understand and respect your nutritional needs. Please inform the staff about your meal preference during the admissions process, and remind your host upon arrival at the facility on your day of surgery.

What about food services for guests?

There is a hospital cafe located in the main lobby that offers meals and snacks from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Patient guests can also order from the room service menu but will be responsible for payment. Vending machines are available next to the cafe. There are also several local restaurants available within walking distance or a short drive, and someone from the Guest Services desk, located in the main lobby can assist you with directions.