A general orthopedic doctor is one that oversees injury and disease of all joints, muscles, and connective tissues. A general orthopedic doctor is an excellent resource and a good place for patients to start their care. A generalist can evaluate your injury or disease and then make recommendations to someone who is specialized in your specific condition. For example, if you have an injury on your right arm and it involves both your shoulder and your wrist, you may see a general orthopedic doctor who can evaluate both injuries. They may treat you for one injury or both, or they may refer you to another doctor who specializes in hand and wrist injuries while treating your shoulder. General orthopedic doctors are specialists themselves; they specialize in the whole body and its care.
General orthopedic surgery is surgery on the body that involves bone, muscles, or tendons. A good example of orthopedic surgery would be a total or partial joint replacement. Another example would be the repair of a broken bone such as a fracture that requires pins or screws. General orthopedics is wider than just the obvious injuries. Surgeries may involve treatment of arthritis, tumor, or cancer removal, repair of genetic issues such as club foot and the repair of dislocations, fractures, and muscle or ligament tears.
As mentioned, orthopedic surgery may involve total or partial joint replacement, repair of crushing injuries where bones must be rebuilt using hardware, muscle and ligament repair when an injury causes tears or the connecting tissue to become unattached to the bone. General orthopedic doctors care for spinal problems and may work in conjunction with a neurologist to plan and treat spinal cord injuries. A common issue is sports injuries such as those incurred during skiing, hiking, biking, running and just from freak accidents.