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Frequently asked questions

What is orthopedics/orthopaedics?

Orthopedics or orthopaedics is the medical specialty concerned with preserving, restoring, and developing the musculoskeletal system, or bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. Orthopedic medical treatment typically involves nonsurgical and surgical methods, improving the form and function of the neck, back, spine, shoulder, elbow, arm, hand, wrist, hip, knee, foot, or ankle.

What types of orthopedic services are available at UOC?

UOC offer the following orthopedic services:

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Radiology
  • Open MRI
  • Bracing
  • Outpatient Surgery
  • Telehealth
  • Urgent Ortho Care
  • Worker's Compensation
  • Clinical Research
When should I consult an orthopedic physician?
Upon referral from a family physician, you should contact an orthopedic physician when you require an evaluation or treatment of an injury or disease involving the musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles). You may also request one of our UOC on-call orthopedic physicians as a part of Mount Nittany Medical Center (State College) and Altoona Regional Health System (Altoona) emergency room service that involves treating traumatic musculoskeletal injuries.
How do I know if I have found the right orthopedic physician?
You have found the right orthopedic physician if he or she has a credible record treating the problem you exhibit. An orthopedic physician should have significant expertise and experience. In addition, an orthopedic surgeon should have performed the specific surgical procedure numerous times. You should feel completely comfortable expressing your concerns and conveying your feelings about your injury or condition.
The term “board-certified” is used in reference to the doctors at UOC. What does this term mean?

Being certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) or the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (AOBOS) means that the orthopedic surgeon has met the specified educational, evaluation, and examination requirements of the Board.

The board certification process includes the following components:

Education: Orthopedic surgeons must have graduated from an accredited medical school and have passed all examinations necessary to receive an unrestricted medical license. Additionally, they must have satisfactorily completed five years of graduate orthopedic surgery education in an accredited orthopedic surgery residency program in the United States or Canada. The residency training must include experience with all age groups in operative and non-operative treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, diseases, fractures, deformities, and other injuries in the spine, hand, foot and ankle, and elbow and shoulder. In addition, their training must also have included experience with arthroscopy, rehabilitation, and treating benign and malignant tumors of bone, joints, and muscles.

Examinations: After completing orthopedic surgery residency education, a doctor must meet the following criteria to become certified by the ABOS or AOBOS:

  • Licensed to practice medicine in the United States, its territories, government service, or Canada.
  • Pass the Part I examination, a written examination about the material taught during the residency training.
  • Accomplished 22 months of operative orthopedic surgery after completing graduate education.
  • Demonstrated professional proficiency and ethical practice based on recommendations from physicians familiar with his or her practice.
  • Pass the Part II examination, an oral exam based on operative cases
What is the difference between a DO (osteopathic doctor) and MD (medical doctor)?
DO and MD programs have more similarities than they do differences. Both programs require a four-year undergraduate degree in traditional science-based coursework with two years of clinical rotation. Both degrees will prepare a future physician to work as a fully licensed doctor in any medical specialty. Furthermore, many of the differences between allopathic and osteopathic medical programs are diminishing in the modern healthcare environment. In the past, osteopathy’s stance on preventative care and holistic healing made it distinguishable from allopathic training. The recent emphasis on primary care in MD programs is promoting even greater overlap between the two schools. Even so, there are some important differences between the two degrees. DO programs concentrate more effort on primary care, training strong, general physicians before specialists. They emphasize preventative care and a holistic approach to patient care, treating the whole person, not just symptoms. DO programs focus extra attention on musculoskeletal health and train students in Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment, a unique, hands-on approach to diagnosis and treatment. MDs do their clinical rotations in a teaching hospital affiliated with their medical school‚. In contrast, DOs do their clinical rotations in community hospitals and local doctors’ offices. DOs must pass the COMPLEX board exam to be licensed. In some cases, DOs also take the USMLE board exam to compete for some allopathic residency programs. DOs can pursue an osteopathic residency program or apply for a residency through the National Residency Match Program used by allopathic physicians.
Why should I have my surgery at the UOC Surgery Center?
The UOC Surgery Center provides an intimate, personalized environment with convenient, flexible scheduling and ease of access for patients and family members. The Surgery Center’s surgeons are supported by anesthesiologists, nurses, and technical staff members who have extensive training and experience in orthopedic care.
If I have a joint replacement, how long does physical therapy last?
The average total joint replacement patient has six weeks of physical therapy.
If my doctor prescribes physical therapy, where can I have my therapy?

It is your choice where you perform your physical therapy. However, for your convenience, UOC has physical therapy offices located at our State College and Altoona offices. When you continue your recovery journey with UOC's physical therapy team, you have the benefit of completing your physical therapy in the same location as your physician. Our expert physical therapists and occupational therapists work closely with your physician, working together to provide you the best treatment plan.

Does the UOC physical therapy department take outside referrals?
Yes. Any person who is prescribed for physical therapy is welcome at the UOC physical therapy department. You are required to have a prescription from the referring physician.
What types of insurance do we accept at UOC?
UOC’s orthopedic physicians participate with most major insurance companies. We recommend consulting with your insurance provider before scheduling your appointment to determine if your provider participates with UOC’s physicians.