An Overview of the History of Orthopedic Surgery

Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). 2016 Nov/Dec;45(7):E434-E438.


Orthopedic surgery has a long and rich history. While the modern term orthopedics was coined in the 1700s, orthopedic principles were beginning to be developed and used during primitive times. The Egyptians continued these practices, and described ways to recognize and manage common orthopedic conditions. The Greeks and Romans subsequently began to study medicine in a systematic manner, and greatly improved our understanding of orthopedic anatomy and surgical technique. After a period of little progress during the Middle Ages, rapid advancement was noted during the Renaissance, including the description of various injuries, improvements in surgical technique, and development of orthopedic hospitals. Collectively, these advances provided the foundation for modern orthopedics. Currently, orthopedic surgery is a rapidly developing field that has benefited from the works of numerous scholars and surgeons. It is important to recognize the successes and failures of the past, in order to advance research and practice as well as improve patient care and clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures / history*
  • Orthopedics / history*
  • Research / history
  • Surgeons