After graduation from PA school eight months ago, I went straight into orthopaedics. Since then, I have acquired a handful of free orthopaedic resources. These references range from websites to medical apps. Some I have stumbled upon myself, while others are well-known, respected orthopaedic references.
Below are my favorite free orthopaedic resources.
American Academy of Family Physicians Journal
Key feature: Joint, tendon and bursa injection techniques
This series of “office procedure” articles can be found for free online. They are perfect to reference when mastering how to perform injections. These articles contain peer-reviewed content and therefore have trustworthy information. The series includes injections of the hip and knee, shoulder region, elbow region, wrist and hand region, ankle and foot and aspiration of the knee. The technique section provides pictures and gives specific instructions for the injection approach.
Duke Orthopaedics: Wheeless’ Textbook of Orthopaedics
Key feature: Online orthopaedic textbook
There are not many free textbooks available, especially online. The Wheeless’ Textbook of Orthopaedics is written by Duke University physicians. The website details common orthopaedic conditions such as arthritis as well as surgical procedures. It also has a great physical exam section for each joint—ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder and wrist. The physical exam section is great when referencing normal range of motion for each joint and includes specific exam tests: Lachman test, Anterior drawer, etc.
Key feature: ICD-9 and CPT coding
ICD-9 coding can be a challenge when first starting in medical practice. Most electronic health records already have all ICD-9 codes built into the system, which makes it easier. However, if you ever need a code, the website eORIF is a quick go-to. It has orthopaedic ICD-9 and CPT codes categorized by joints: shoulder, knee, hip, etc. In addition, this website is packed with orthopaedic information and relevant anatomy. The protocols are very helpful, such as the rotator cuff repair rehab protocol.
AO Surgery Medical App
Key feature: Surgical technique
AO Surgery is a free medical app created by AO Foundation, an organization of surgeons treating musculoskeletal conditions. AO Surgery Reference can also be accessed online as a Web page. This reference contains detailed information on surgical techniques, specifically for open reduction and internal fixation procedures for broken bones. You begin by choosing the fractured bone, and the app provides the possible surgical procedures and then walks you through the procedure by explaining positioning and approach.
Principles of Goniometry
Key feature: Joint range of motion
Goniometry is an objective measure to evaluate range of motion in various joints such as the shoulder or knee. It is used in an initial patient evaluation and to monitor progress after a surgical procedure. There is a lack of free goniometry references online. However, I did find Principles of Goniometry, which displays the normal degree of motion for all joints. The website displays the normal ranges in an easy-to-read table.
Which online references or medical apps have you used as a student or a PA in practice? Send me an email or post your comment below.
Kimberly Mackey, MPAS, PA-C is a graduate of The University of Texas Medical Branch PA program. She practices in orthopaedic surgery in Houston. You can connect with her via twitter @kimmackeyPA or email firstname.lastname@example.org.