Welcome to Orthopaedia!

Orthopaedia is a peer-reviewed resource in musculoskeletal medicine, distributed free of charge by The Codman Group and The United States Bone and Joint Initiative.

You might wonder why my colleagues and I decided to produce yet one more book. Unlike George Mallory, who claimed to have climbed Everest "because it was there," we created Orthopaedia because it wasn't. We saw a void - the absence of a reliable, affordable text for students in musculoskeletal medicine - and Orthopaedia is our attempt at filling it.

In 1998, Kevin Freedman and I reported in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that even graduates from top-tier medical schools were inadequately prepared in the field of musculoskeletal medicine. With other collaborators, I later discovered a possible reason for this: the majority of medical schools at that time did not mandate courses in musculoskeletal medicine. Upon further exploration, we found that another contributing factor might be the lack of affordable and reliable educational resources in the field.

Affordability matters a lot for a topic like musculoskeletal medicine, as any course offered is apt to be short. In my experience, students have been hesitant to buy an expensive textbook for a one or two-week course.

Reliability is a related issue. Without a textbook in hand, it's likely that students will turn to the internet. The internet has lots of free information, of course, but not all of that information is correct. Besides, when it comes to taking care of patients, even “correct” information isn't very helpful unless it has been validated.

Orthopaedia solves these problems. Orthopaedia is comprehensive, with more than 100 chapters covering musculoskeletal medicine from head to toe (or, technically speaking, the first cervical vertebra to the hallux). Orthopaedia is peer-reviewed, with each chapter vetted and endorsed by an independent subject matter expert. And Orthopaedia can be downloaded for the princely sum of $0.00.

That price tells you something else: there are no sales revenues to be collected and no royalties to be distributed. All of the 300-plus Orthopaedia contributors–writers, reviewers, and editors–were volunteers. Many of the Orthopaedia contributors are orthopaedic surgeons, but all of us came together around the belief that musculoskeletal medicine is important for all students, regardless of what their chosen field turns out to be.

Musculoskeletal diseases are common, so all healthcare providers must know the basics. By the same token, students who want to focus on these diseases need a good starting point: a book that keeps things as simple as possible but no simpler, as Einstein's aphorism would have it. It is my hope that Orthopaedia will serve all students – and, ultimately, the people they care for.

-- Joseph Bernstein, MD

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