General Questions:

What is an orthopedic surgeon?

An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor with significant training & experience in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries to the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system consists of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, etc.


If I see an orthopedic surgeon, will he or she generally recommend surgery?

The majority of orthopedic injuries and conditions can be successfully treated using a variety of non-surgical methods. Depending on a patient’s age, activity level, and their specific injury or condition, it’s likely that one of these treatments will be suggested initially. If the condition does not improve, or in the event of severe injuries, then surgery will be heavily considered.


What are the most common orthopedic surgeries?

Arthroscopic surgery can take place in different areas near the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip and ankle, and is one of the most commonly performed surgeries. Specifically, surgery to replace damaged joints with newly fabricated components, and surgery to repair soft tissue injuries like torn tendons or ligaments are also extremely common orthopedic procedures.


What are the most common workplace injuries?

Back injuries account for the most significant portion of workplace-related injuries. Blue-collar laborers and heavy lifters are prone to disabling injuries, along with individuals working in repetitive, high-activity environments. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another condition commonly developed by office-workers and machine operators.


Where are you most commonly available to see patients?

Dr. Torrez is most frequently stationed at his office in Waterloo, located at the United Medical Park. He also partners with the Buchanan County Health Center in Independence, and frequently rotates his services to their partnering location.


How can I best prepare for my surgery?

Your surgeon will provide specific instructions and offer to discuss any questions you might have prior to any procedure. Common preparatory requests include:

Do not eat or drink after midnight on the day of your surgery.

Do not take any medications the night before your surgery unless authorized by your surgeon.

Do not smoke after midnight on the day of your surgery.

Notify your surgeon if your physical condition has changed in any way.

Notify your surgeon if there is a chance you are pregnant.


What should I wear on the day of my surgery?

Shower or bathe on the morning of your surgery but do not apply any makeup or wear jewelry prior to your procedure. We suggest wearing comfortable shoes and clothing that will fit over any bandages that will be applied (loose-fitting or button down shirts, baggy shorts or sweatpants, etc.)


How long will my procedure take?

The length of surgery depends on the injury or condition being treated and the type procedure being performed. Procedures can take anywhere from 30 minutes to multiple hours depending on a number of different factors. Minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy or procedures that require smaller incisions, typically take much less time.


How do I best schedule an appointment?

Contact Dr. Torrez’s office by phone at (319)-833-5922, or any of the other methods listed on our contact page to set up an initial appointment.


How long will I stay in the hospital/surgery center following surgery?

The amount of time you spend in the hospital or surgery center following your procedure will vary depending on a number of different factors. This timetable is adjusted based on each patient’s individual need.


What is the difference between X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans?

X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are all different forms of imaging techniques used to aid in the diagnosing of specific injuries and conditions. X-rays are a type of radiation that provides images of dense objects in the body when passing through them. MRIs combines the use of a powerful magnet and radio waves instead of radiation, and provides higher quality images of less dense tissue in the body. A CT scan is similar to an MRI in image quality, but acts as a high-powered X-ray that can provide 360-degree pictures of internal structures.


Should I apply ice or heat to an injury?

Icing is an important and effective way to help reduce swelling within the first 48 hours of an injury. It’s also important to remember that ice decreases blood flow to the applied area, and that rotating ice with heat will improve blood flow and can significantly relieve pain while loosening your muscles. 


What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is the incorporation of exercise and functional training in treatment of specific musculoskeletal and neurological injuries. Physical therapy aims to rebuild strength and restore mobility to recently injured or repaired portions of your body.


What is a tendon? What is a ligament? What is cartilage? The difference?

A tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. A ligament is an elastic band of tissue that connects bones to other bones and stabilizes a joint. Cartilage is a cushion-like substance that surrounds the ends of bones, while providing protection and encouraging free movement.


What is a cortisone/corticosteroid injection?

Cortisone is a steroid that is produced naturally in the body. Synthetically-produced cortisone is sometimes injected into soft tissue and joints to help decrease inflammation. In Orthopedics, these types of injections are commonly used as an initial treatment for bursitis, tendinitis, and arthritis.


Do I need a referral from my primary care physician to see you?

Depending on which insurance carrier you utilize, a physician’s referral may or may not be required. Check with your primary care physician or your insurance company to find out if this is a necessary step for you.



Arthroscopic Surgery Questions:


What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin tube (cannula) containing a high definition, fiber optic camera, is inserted through small incisions and used to examine the inside of a joint. Arthroscopic surgery allows surgeons to diagnose specific joint injuries and diseases, and even provides ways to treat certain problems by utilizing surgical instruments passed through the cannula. Because arthroscopic surgery requires only small incisions, it typically results in quicker and less painful recovery times.


What conditions are treated with arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic examinations help diagnose and treat several different joint-related injuries and conditions. Cartilage damage, tendon and ligament tears, joint inflammation and osteoarthritis are all common conditions that are proven to improve through certain arthroscopic techniques.


When will I recover from arthroscopic surgery?

Small puncture wounds will heal in days, although it will typically take several weeks before repaired joints can completely recover. Patients can begin small, daily activities within a few days, but getting back to more strenuous motions can take weeks or months depending on the specific procedure.


Will physical therapy be required after surgery?

Exercise and physical therapy are pivotal to the recovery process for most orthopedic procedures. Getting a full range of motion, strength, and flexibility back after surgery takes time, but therapy can significantly expedite your rehabilitation.


Can my body still function and perform certain tasks without treatment to a torn ligament?

Depending on the severity of your injury, your age, and desired activity level, many damaged ligaments can be healed or managed using non-surgical methods. This, however, creates a situation where more complications can arise and improper healing can lead to stiffness or decreased mobility. Highly active patients, especially sports participants, will generally benefit from the assurance provided by surgical treatment.

Do I need to use crutches following ACL repair?

We actually encourage full weight bearing almost immediately following your procedure. Placing weight on your repaired leg from the beginning helps condition your recovery process, provide strength and encourages healing.


How long will ACL reconstruction surgery take?

While procedure length varies depending on the severity of your injury, the surgical procedure will take between 1 and 2-hours, followed by a 2-hour period spent in the recovery room.


How long will I wear a sling following shoulder surgery?

Because arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive, patients can underestimate recovery expectations. You’ll wear an arm sling or an abduction pillow for 2 to 6-weeks following surgery, and it could be 12 to 16-weeks, or more, before your shoulder starts feeling completely back to normal.


I can’t sleep because my arm hurts; what can I do?

Pain from shoulder surgery usually worsens at night. We recommend sleeping in an upright, seated position, and taking pain medication close to an hour before bedtime.



Joint Replacement Questions:


How long does it take for joint replacement surgery to heal completely?

Healing times vary from patient to patient and is dependent on a wide range of factors.


Can I still golf/exercise with a joint replacement?

It’s highly likely that in time, you’ll be able to return to most of the recreational activities you enjoyed prior to surgery. The ability to perform everyday tasks will return fairly quickly, while more strenuous participation will require patience.


What causes arthritis?

Over time, the cushion-like tissue found between bones known as cartilage breaks down and wears away. Increased levels of bone-on-bone friction and other stemming complications cause joints to ache, swell and stiffen, creating the condition known as arthritis.


What is Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is a treatment method meant to replace damaged joints with artificial, prosthetic components. The knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and ankle areas are commonly replaced joints. During this procedure, metal components are inserted to replace worn cartilage and damaged ends of bones, ensuring that joints can continue to function at higher levels. The primary goal of joint replacement surgery is to restore mobility and to relieve debilitating pain.


How long do artificial joints last?

Artificial joint replacement components may have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, depending on patient health factors such as weigh, diabetes, smoking, and other behavioral factors. Maintaining a healthy diet, and participation in moderate exercise programs can increase the longevity of artificial joints. Most patients who undergo this specific type of surgical procedure exceed 65 years of age, but younger recipients will likely have to undergo another joint replacement surgery later in life.


How long after knee replacement surgery before I can drive?

If your right knee or hip was operated on, you shouldn’t drive a vehicle for at least one month. After the initial month of recovery, you may continue driving as comfortable.


What positions should I focus on keeping my knee in?

Spend significant portions of each day bending and straightening your knee and try to keep your leg elevated as possible when resting.


How long will I stay in the hospital following my knee replacement procedure?

The length of time spent in stay following surgery, much like full recovery, varies from patient to patient. On average, patients will spend 1 to 2 days in the hospital.


How do I know if surgery is right for me?

The decision to have surgery will be collectively reached by you and your surgeon. Non-surgical treatments can often help decrease pain and improve mobility, but underlying issues will not fully heal without surgery.


Can I sleep on my side following hip replacement surgery?

You can sleep on either side of your body as long as you feel comfortable. However, you will be sleeping with a pillow between your knees during your first month of recovery.


How long will I be on pain medication following surgery?

You’ll likely require 6 weeks of pain medication, beginning with strong oral medications during the initial 3 weeks.



Bone Fracture Repair Questions:

What’s the difference between a sprain and a fracture?

A sprain is an injury to the fibrous ligaments that connect bones to each other. A fracture is a direct injury to the bone in which a portion of the bone breaks free of its original position. Symptoms of sprains and fractures are very similar, but symptoms of bone breaks typically maintain for longer periods of time at more severe levels. A sprain can heal with rest, but a fractured bone must be set in order to heal properly.


After surgery, will my repaired bone be more susceptible to re-injury?

As long as patients complete their recovery process in full and utilize necessary physical therapy practices, the repaired portion of bone will be no weaker or stronger than prior to the injury.


What are the most common causes of fractures?

Trauma to the bone that likely occurred from a fall, collision, or car accident is the most significant cause of fractures. Osteoporosis and overuse are other major contributors to bone fractures.


Does my break require a cast or surgery?

The majority of bone fractures are properly and effectively healed through stabilization in a plaster or fiberglass cast. In most fractures, the broken portion of bone refrains from shifting too far out of place, and can be repositioned with relative ease. Severe fractures in which bone fragments become displaced from their original position will typically require surgery to heal properly.


Will my hardware (plate and/or screws) have to be removed at some point?

Plates and screws used to fix bone fractures are generally not removed as long as they are not causing problems. Removing hardware would require another surgery and since the vast majority of patients do not experience problems, a second procedure is deemed unnecessary. If plates and screws do cause some form of pain or irritation, a removal procedure may be performed after the fracture heals.



Achilles Tendon Repair Questions:


How long will it take for me to fully recover from surgery?

Patients are typically fitted for a cast or a removable boot following surgery for a period of 4 to 8 weeks. After that time, patients are allowed to begin light ankle movements and physical therapy programs, and can completely return to activities within 6 months.


What is the likelihood of success with the procedure?

Repair to a ruptured Achilles tendon usually goes very well. It is important to understand that even after a successful surgery, your overall leg strength will likely be less than it was before the injury.


What is the risk of tendon re-rupture?

The risk of re-rupture after surgical repair is about 5 percent. If re-rupture occurs, the tendon can be repaired again either directly or with other techniques that further reinforce the repair. Revision surgery is almost always much more complex than the original surgery. 


Carpal Tunnel & Trigger Finger Release Questions:


When do I get my stitches out?

Any stitches will be removed during your post-op appointment roughly 2 weeks following surgery.


How long will my procedure last?

The actual surgical procedure will only take about 15 minutes, but pre and post-operation processes will take additional time.


When will I fully recover from release surgery?

Patients are likely to regain use of their hand within 5 to 7-days and recover fully within a few weeks.


What can happen if I don’t have my Trigger Finger operated on?

Trigger finger is not a medical emergency by any means, and the decision to undergo surgery will be made collectively by you and your doctor. Forgoing surgery can lead to increased pain and the development of a permanent bend in your middle finger joint. In severe cases, patients can experience permanent deformity.