Who is "The Best" Orthopedic Surgeon?

Tips on How to Find the Best Orthopedic Surgeon

Echo / Getty Images

Anytime you or your loved one is injured, has a medical condition, or needs help, you want to find the best.  It's understandable and appropriate to seek out the best person to help you find the solution to your problem.  However, finding that individual can be difficult.  Online ratings, reputation, referrals, all may, or may not , lead you in the right direction.  Unfortunately, too often, people don't know where to start, so here are some suggestions to help you find the best orthopedic surgeon to help you. 

How Do You Find The Best?

It all depends how you want to define best. Some surgeons devote more time to research, and they're often quite well known. Some surgeons perform specific, unusual procedures that they have been specially trained to do. Some orthopedic surgeons gain notoriety by being the physician of politician or professional sports team or player. There is no simple way to define the best surgeon.

First, it is very unusual that you would have to travel a great distance to find a very good orthopedic surgeon. There are thousands of well-trained, experienced orthopedic surgeons throughout the United States.  Often it's best to find someone who you can return to see without much travel or difficulty, if at all possible, in the event you need more frequent or emergent care.  I have seen many patients make the mistake of traveling very long distances, only to be disappointed by not having access to the people they need to help them.  While it's very true that some rare conditions may require you to travel, the vast majority of people can find care close to home.

Second, surgeons who perform the most common procedures the most frequently, may not be particularly well known by the above criteria.  It is well known that surgeons who perform specific surgical procedures more commonly have better results, on average.  It's OK to ask your surgeon how frequently they perform a specific procedure, and you can use this information to judge their experience. 

Online Tools

You can use the Find An Orthopedic Surgeon tool to screen physicians, and ask other doctors in the area which surgeons have been good to work with in the past.  Use caution with online ratings sites, as there is debate as to how well online physician ratings correlate with quality of treatment.  While it's a reasonable place to start, don't let the online reputation be your only information you use to judge a surgeon.

Finding The Right Fit

It is my personal belief that the best surgeon must not only be competent, but you must work well with him or her. Determine the ability of your surgeon from reputation and recommendations from other physicians, but also make sure you are comfortable working with this doctor as you may well be working together for years to come. In order to have a successful outcome, finding someone you work well with can be of utmost importance.

And on that note, if you don't have a good feeling, or don't feel you've found the right fit, that's OK.  Even if someone else thought the doctor was great, maybe it's not the right fit for you.  Consider getting a second opinion.  Finding that right doctor for you is important! Often your instincts are the most important path to finding that right fit.

A Word From Verywell

Some people put a lot of pressure on themselves to find the best doctor, which in the end can be a disservice. It's great that you want to find the right doctor to help you, but too often people allow vague references of reputation (such as a professional team doctor or well-advertised doctor) guide their decision. In reality, these types of doctors may, or may not, be the best person to manage their condition. They may be far away, complicating your recovery or making communication difficult. For most conditions, it is helpful to find a doctor who is as close to you as you would be comfortable traveling to regularly, approachable and answers your questions, and has the trust of other healthcare providers you know (your family doctor or other who work in healthcare).

Was this page helpful?