Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mariya Opanova speaks with a patient.

Helping Women Regain Mobility


She was born in Bulgaria, but orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mariya Opanova and her family moved to England when she was 12. She graduated from the University of Cambridge and earned her medical degree at St. George’s, University of London.

Following her orthopedic surgery residency with University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Opanova completed a fellowship with Dr. Cass Nakasone at Straub Medical Center, and then joined Hawaii Pacific Health.

In this article she explains details about both her work and personal interests.

Dr. Mariya Opanova discusses orthopedic treatment options for knee joint pain with a patient.

What are your duties as an orthopedic surgeon?

As an orthopedic surgeon, I see patients with bone and joint problems and offer them solutions ranging from conservative management – including physical therapy, injections and other treatments – to surgical options. I specialize in hip and knee joint replacement surgery, which allows patients to regain their mobility and get back to enjoying a more-active lifestyle. I also take care of patients who have suffered broken bones and need surgery or casts.

What are the advantages of a bone and joint center specifically for women?

Throughout my career, I’ve had many female patients mention that it was much easier for them to talk to a female doctor and that they were glad to have that opportunity. Often, women do not care for themselves as much as they care for those around them. With our women-focused clinic, we can create an environment where women are more comfortable seeking the orthopedic help they need.

What are some of the conditions women tend to develop more than men, and how can these conditions be treated?

Women are more likely to suffer from arthritis. We offer an array of treatment options beginning with physical therapy, weight-loss management and injections. When all conservative treatment options have been exhausted and patients feel ready to pursue surgery, hip and knee replacements offer a reliable solution.

After surgery, many patients are able to return to the activities they enjoyed prior to developing arthritis, including hiking, water sports, dancing and, most importantly, enjoying time with their families.

What can women do now to prevent problems in the future?

The best preventive strategy for maintaining healthy joints is to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Exercising and stretching on a regular basis help preserve strength and improve range of motion in joints. We always encourage patients to maintain a healthy weight, which reduces the stress on their joints.

What inspired you to pursue a medical degree?

My grandfather was a surgeon, and seeing his devotion and love for his career inspired me to pursue medicine. I love orthopedic surgery because it gives me the opportunity to help people restore their mobility and return to enjoying life. It is incredibly fulfilling, and I feel truly blessed to be able to have such an impact on people’s lives.

What else would you like readers to know about you?

I am originally from Europe. I met my husband on a surf trip in England and after medical school, I moved here to do my orthopedic training. We have two young children, a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, who keep us very entertained and busy. When we have spare time, we always look forward to our hobbies – we especially enjoy surfing and golfing.



This article was first featured in the Aug. 24, 2022, issue of MidWeek as a part of the "Dr. in the House" series. See the full publication here.



Published on: December 15, 2022