We continue our physician blog series with an informal Q&A with Brian Divelbiss, M.D. Dr. Divelbiss is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who joined Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics in 2001. Since 2012, he has served as President and CEO of the practice.
Dr. Divelbiss, please tell our readers a little about your academic and professional background.
I received my medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and went on to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for my residency in orthopedic surgery. I also completed a fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at the University of Iowa Medical Center, and I am certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
In addition to my duties as an orthopedic surgeon and the President/CEO of Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics, I am also an Attending Physician at Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute and Saint Luke’s Health System, a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, and a Courtesy Staff Physician at Truman Medical Center.
As an orthopedic surgeon, what are your subspecialized areas of expertise?
I specialize in care and treatment for hand, wrist and elbow disorders, as well as bicep tendon ruptures and some shoulder problems. Some of the most common conditions I treat are carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) arthritis, trigger finger, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and Dupuytren’s contracture.
Why did you decide to become an orthopedic hand surgeon?
Hand surgery has always been very interesting to me. The hands are very complex and they are constantly moving. Orthopedic hand surgery requires a lot of fine work, and it’s very rewarding to help people return to their previous levels of function through orthopedic care and treatment.
Describe your approach to treating patients.
I see my role first and foremost as an educator. I work through the diagnosis with each and every patient, explaining the condition and all possible treatment options. Collectively we make a decision that is best for the patient. Certainly, there are times when orthopedic surgery is necessary, but there are also times when it may not be appropriate. So, I make sure to rule out all forms of conservative care prior to surgery. When treating a patient with thumb arthritis, for example, I may refer the patient to a certified hand therapist (CHT) for a custom brace. I usually have the patient wear the brace for about four weeks to see if it relieves the pain. If pain persists, I may recommend a cortisone injection. If that does not help, we may discuss the option of orthopedic surgery. Of course, I follow all my patients’ progress throughout recovery, which for many patients will also include physical or occupational therapy.
Do you treat workers compensation patients?
Yes. Hand and wrist injuries are some of the most common work-related injuries in the United States. Like any workers compensation injury, these injuries require early medical intervention to avoid permanent damage and loss of function. After determining if a patient had a pre-existing condition or experienced an on-the-job injury, I work with case managers and adjusters to return the patient to work as safely and efficiently as possible. The greatest reward for me is helping patients regain function and return to their daily activities—whether they have experienced a work-related injury, a sports-related injury or another type of orthopedic condition.
Do you coordinate care with other healthcare providers—if so, who?
In addition to case managers, adjusters and CHTs, I work with primary care physicians who refer patients to me if they feel orthopedic surgery or conservative therapies may be appropriate. My primary concern is helping patients achieve the best possible outcome, whatever that takes.
If you are a patient, referring physician, case manager, adjuster or caregiver in need of more in-depth information about Dr. Divelbiss or the procedures he performs, please contact Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics.