Use the drop-down menu below to navigate some frequently asked questions by our patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Surgery Instructions

Follow these instructions, plus whatever your surgeon tells you, during the week (0 to 7 days) before your surgery in order to have a safer, more efficient procedure.

Food & Drink

Do not consume food or liquids after midnight on the evening prior to your surgery date, as this can complicate the anesthesia process. This includes mints and chewing gum.

We recommend that you do not smoke, chew tobacco or consume alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to your surgery.

Presurgery Hygiene & Dress

  • You may brush your teeth the night prior to surgery, but remember not to swallow liquids after midnight.
  • Do not wear jewelry, watches and body piercings the day of surgery.
  • Do not bring valuables with you. You may wear dentures and glasses; however, we recommend that you bring the cases to place them in during surgery. If you wear contacts, they will need to be removed, so bring your solution and a case with you.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing appropriate for the procedure being performed. (For example, a front button up blouse or shirt for shoulder surgery.)
  • Bring flat sole slip-on walking shoes.
  • Bring extra undergarments and/or diapers for young children having surgery. If they are taking a bottle, bring an empty bottle as well as a bottle with their usual formula or milk. You may bring a favorite toy or blanket as well.
  • If you have been provided with any medical equipment prior to your surgery date, such as slings, crutches, postoperative shoes or walkers, present them at check-in. You may also want to bring pillows and blankets for your trip home.

Medications & Testing

  • Stop taking all herbal remedies, aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications (Advil®, Aleve®, ibuprofen, Motrin®, naproxen, etc.) seven days prior to surgery, unless otherwise instructed. However, it is okay to take Tylenol® (acetaminophen) if something is needed for pain.
  • If you are currently taking a prescription blood thinner (Coumadin®, Plavix®, etc.) on a regular basis for heart problems or stroke, contact your surgeon's office immediately for further instructions.
  • You may take your usual morning blood pressure, heart, acid reflux and/or seizure medications on the morning of your surgery with a sip of water.
  • Do not take any diabetic medication the day of surgery. However, please bring your diabetic medication with you.
  • Provide an accurate list of your daily medications when your doctor or nurses are reviewing your health history. Continue to take all prescription medication as normal unless informed otherwise by the nursing staff. You will be instructed on which medications to take the day of the procedure.
  • If you experience any health changes, such as an elevated temperature, cold, cough or other health-related problems, please notify your doctor immediately.


As a reminder, you will not be permitted to drive a car or leave the Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center or hospital unattended after surgery. You must make arrangements for a responsible adult or caregiver to drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours following the surgery.

Below are answers to general questions about orthopedics.

General Orthopedics Questions

What is orthopedics?

Orthopedics or orthopaedics, is a specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions, disorders, diseases and injuries of the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves.

What is the difference between a sprain and a fracture?

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.

A fracture is a break in a bone. A fracture rarely involves surgery and is usually treated by immobilizing the bone with a cast or a splint, which allows the broken bones to grow back together. Fractures can occur in any bone in the body and are often the result of high-force impact or stress; however, fractures may also be a result of medical conditions that weaken the bone.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis, or joint inflammation, refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions causing pain, stiffness and swelling in joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that damages the lining surrounding our joints while also destroying bones, tissue and joints over time. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that slowly damages the cartilage surrounding the ends of bones and is common in the hip, knee and spine.

What is bursitis?

Bursitis is an inflammation or irritation of a bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac located around joints. Bursitis causes a reduction in or a loss of motion at the affected joint. Bursitis typically occurs in the elbow, heel, hip, knee, shoulder or thumb.

What is cartilage?

Cartilage is a soft, rubbery, gel-like coating on the ends of bones (where they articulate) that protects joints and facilitates movement.

What is a tendon?

A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone.

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis (medically: tendinitis) is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Chronic strain, overuse or misuse of a tendon leading to a repetitive stress injury or a serious acute injury can lead to a weakness, tear or swelling of the tendon tissue, resulting in pain and stiffness near the tendon. Tendonitis usually occurs in the elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, thumb or wrist, but can occur anywhere there is a tendon.

Should I use ice or heat on my injury?

The general rule of thumb is to use ice within the first 24-48 hours of the injury, or whenever swelling is showing. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and swelling by decreasing blood flow to the area that is injured. Apply ice indirectly (not directly on the skin) for 20 minutes, remove the ice for at least 20 minutes and then repeat as necessary.

Heat is used to increase blood flow, which helps promote pain relief after inflammation and swelling subside. Heat is also used to assist in warming muscles up prior to exercise, any physical activity or physical therapy.

Want to learn more about our orthopedic doctors? The below questions have been answered.

Orthopedics Specialists Questions

What's the difference between an orthopedic doctor and an orthopedic surgeon?

An orthopedic doctor, or orthopedist, is a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathy (DO) who specializes in the musculoskeletal system: bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves.

Orthopedic surgeons are also specialized in the musculoskeletal system with a focus on performing surgery as part of treatment.

Many orthopedists, both physicians and surgeons, specialize in certain areas of the body, such as foot and ankle, hand and wrist, back, neck and spine. Additionally, orthopedic doctors may focus on a specific field of orthopedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine and trauma.

What is the education & training of an orthopedic surgeon?

Board-certified orthopedic surgeons have successfully completed a minimum of 13 years of formal education, which includes:

  • Undergraduate: Four years of study in a college or university
  • Medical school: Four years of study in a school of medicine
  • Orthopedic residency: Five years of study at a major medical institution

If your surgeon is fellowship trained, this means they completed one year of specialized education in an accredited fellowship program in addition to the above schooling. All orthopedic surgeons continue their medical education yearly to stay current in orthopedic knowledge and skills.

What does board certification mean and why is it important?

Once a doctor has completed an orthopedic residency at a major medical institution, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery offers a written test to become board eligible. If the doctor passes the written test, they may take the oral test after two years in practice. When the doctor passes the oral exam, they become board certified and are considered diplomates of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

According to the American Board of Medical Specialties, the certification process means a medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and passed an evaluation process. You can be assured that board certification means that your doctor has the knowledge, experience and skills to provide high-quality patient care in their field.

What does fellowship training mean?

Fellowship training means your doctor has completed an additional year of specialty training in a specific field in an accredited fellowship program after their minimum of 13 years of education.

What is a podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), also known as a podiatric physician or surgeon. Podiatrists provide medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including sprains and fractures, bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown/fungal toenails, warts, corns and calluses.

A podiatrist also provides care for sprains, fractures, infections and injuries of the foot, ankle and heel. In addition to undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry. Podiatrists are required to pass state and national exams, as well as be licensed in the state in which they practice. Podiatrists can earn board certification with advanced training, clinical experience and passing an exam.

What is an advanced practitioner?

Springfield Clinic advanced practitioners are either physician assistants or certified nurse practitioners. Both are academically trained health care professionals licensed by the state of Illinois and certified by a national board.

Advanced practitioners are able to perform many of the same services provided by physicians, including prescribing medications, ordering diagnostic tests and treating illnesses. Advanced practitioners are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising doctor or specialist. Advanced practitioners see patients in the office as well as assist the doctors in surgery.

What is a primary care sports medicine doctor?

A primary care sports medicine doctor is a leader in the field of sports medicine. Either through advanced fellowship training or through years of clinical experience, a primary care sports medicine doctor has learned the skills to care for athletes of all ages, sports and levels of competition. Primary care sports medicine doctors often serve as team doctors to professional sports teams or as personal doctors to elite-level athletes.

What is a physical therapist?

A physical therapist is licensed by the state to provide therapy programs for musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, sports injuries, post-operative rehabilitation and massage therapy.

What is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist is licensed by the state and specializes in the treatment of the upper extremity (hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder) and work injuries. The services provided by an occupational therapist include patient education, joint range of motion, adaptive techniques, splinting and workplace evaluations.

Below are answers to questions about orthopedic tests and treatments.

General Test and Treatment Questions

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure commonly performed to diagnose and treat problems within the joint by using high-tech cameras. To begin, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a small instrument, called an arthroscope, into the joint.

The arthroscope contains a fiber optic light source and small television camera that allow the surgeon to view the joint on a television monitor and diagnose the problem, determine the extent of the injury and make any necessary repairs.

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density test is used to diagnose osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes weakening of the bones ultimately resulting in fractures. In the past, osteoporosis could only be detected after a person’s bone broke; however, by using a bone density test, it is possible to know one’s individual risk of breaking bones before one breaks.

A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other bone mineral packed into the segment of bone. Common areas that are tested during a bone density scan include the spine, hip and forearm.

What is a cortisone injection?

Corticosteroids, more commonly referred to as cortisone, are a steroid produced in the body naturally. Synthetically produced cortisone can also be injected into soft tissues and joints to help decrease inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, you may experience less pain as a result of the reduced inflammation. In orthopedics, cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment for chronic conditions, such as bursitis, tendonitis and arthritis, to reduce swelling, pain and joint stiffness.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan, also known as a CAT scan, produces images that are similar in detail and in quality to an MRI; however, the CT scan takes a 360-degree picture of internal organs, the spine and vertebrae. CT scans provide cross-sectional views of the body and provide clearer imaging than an MRI.

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a steroid injection used to help decrease the inflammation of spinal nerves to help relieve pain in the neck, back, arms and legs from conditions such as herniated disks, spinal stenosis and radiculopathy. In an epidural, cortisone is injected directly into the spinal canal. While some patients only need one injection to relieve pain, it normally requires two or three injections to provide significant pain relief.

What is a fusion?

A fusion is a procedure in which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods and screws) to health into a single, solid bone.

What is an internal fixation?

Internal fixation is a treatment to hold pieces of a broken bone in the correct position with metal plates, pins or screws while the bone is healing.

What is joint replacement surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is a surgical procedure performed to replace an arthritic or damaged joint with a new, artificial joint, called a prosthesis. Joint replacements can be performed on every joint in the body, but are most commonly performed in the knee, hip, shoulder and elbow.

Joints contain cartilage, a soft, rubbery, gel-like coating on the ends of bones (where they articulate) that protects joints and facilitates movement. Over time, or if the joint has been injured, the cartilage wears away, and the bones of the joint start rubbing together. As the bones rub together, bone spurs may form, and the joint becomes stiff and painful. Most people have joint replacement surgery when they can no longer control the pain with medication and other treatments, and the pain is significantly interfering with their lives.

What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a procedure performed using a safe form of radiation to provide a two-dimensional picture of your body. X-rays are used as a screening tool to evaluate for causes of many common disorders, such as bone breaks, joint and spine injuries or conditions, and arthritis or osteoporosis.

What is an MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an advanced technology using magnetic fields and radio waves (like microwaves and the AM/FM bands on your radio) to visualize the inner workings of your body.

The pictures produced by an MRI help the radiologist clearly and accurately detect and define the differences between healthy and diseased tissues, especially in the soft tissues. It can reveal many health problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.

What are NSAIDs?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are non-prescription, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains as well as arthritis and help in reducing swelling, pain and joint stiffness.

What is osteotomy?

Osteotomy is a procedure to correct bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.

What is outpatient surgery?

An outpatient surgery means you are not required to stay in the hospital overnight; it is commonly known as ambulatory surgery. Our orthopedic specialists perform outpatient surgery at Springfield Clinic’s Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center, A+ rated by the national Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

What is soft tissue repair?

Soft tissue repair is a treatment to mend or fix soft tissues, such as tendons or ligaments.