Orthopedic Statistics and Demographics

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in the treatment of a variety of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedists treat problems of bones, joints, muscles, nerves, and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. There are a number of sub-specialties within the field of orthopedic surgery.

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Facts and Statistics About Orthopedic Surgery

Here are a bunch of facts and statistics about orthopedic surgery. Much of this information is collected from a survey of orthopedic surgeons completed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This survey is performed every other year to collect information from orthopedic surgeons in the United States. The survey provides insight into a broad range of topics related to orthopedic surgeons and their patients.

Other sources of orthopedic information include data compiled by Medicare and Medicaid databases from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and private data analysis organizations. Orthopedic surgeons, hospitals, and healthcare organizations may use these data to help inform their decisions about patient care, practice direction, and strategic planning.

Some of the interesting facts about being an orthopedic surgeon include (as of 2018):

  • The average orthopedic surgeon in the US is 56 years old
  • Over 90% of orthopedic surgeons are men
  • About 85% of orthopedic surgeons are white

As far as typical orthopedic surgery practice, the data shows the following:

  • The most common sub-specialties are: 1. sports medicine, 2. hand surgery, 3. joint replacement
  • About 60% of orthopedic surgeons are sub-specialists, the rest are general practice orthopedists

Many people are curious about the salary of orthopedic surgeons:

  • The average salary of an orthopedic surgeon in 2019 was $526,385
  • Orthopedic surgeons are the third highest earning medical specialty (after neurosurgery and thoracic surgery.

Regarding job satisfaction, there are mixed results:

  • About half of all orthopedic surgeons value gratitude and relationships with patients as the most rewarding aspect of their job
  • Half of orthopedic surgeons would choose medicine if they had to choose again, and two-thirds would choose orthopedic surgery as their specialty
  • Unfortunately, 45% of orthopedic surgeons report symptoms of being "burned-out"

These statistics should give you a sense of the specialty of orthopedic surgery. Further details can be found from the sources listed below. Keep in mind, these data are constantly shifting and changing, but it should give a glimpse into the specialty of orthopedic surgery.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cherf, J. A snapshot of U.S. orthopaedic surgeons: results from the 2018 OPUS survey. AAOS Now.

  2. Doximity. U.S. physician employment report 2019: workforce trends by Metro area and medical specialty.

  3. Rechtoris M. 23 statistics for orthopedic surgeons-- compensation, net worth, and more. Becker's Spine Review.

Additional Reading

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.