Athletes get knocked down, beat up and often place too much stress on their bodies. This is true of the young woman competing to make the high school softball team, the professional basketball player competing to make the starting lineup or the retired grandfather competing to win a friendly game of tennis. As a former Wayne State University football player, I understand the thrill of competition. Unfortunately, I also know of the frustration when injury hinders personal performance or takes you out of the game altogether. Even more unfortunate, the pain athletes endure while playing injured can rob them of their passion for the game and linger long after their playing days are over.
Twenty-five years after the end of my own athletic career, I no longer compete on the football field. However, tearing a ligament in my knee and the subsequent reconstruction and rehabilitation of that injury influenced my decision to become an orthopedic surgeon. I was naturally drawn to the sub-specialty of sports medicine, with an emphasis on surgery of the knee, shoulder and elbow. Today, I treat a wide variety of injuries for athletes of all levels.
Most sports injuries can be placed into two categories:
An acute sports injury occurs suddenly, such as a sprain, muscle tear or bone fracture.
A chronic injury occurs over an extended period of time, often the result of overuse or improper body mechanics.
The types of sports injuries I treat in my office vary greatly depending on an athlete's chosen sport and the body mechanics involved. During a physician office visit, a patient can expect to be evaluated and the doctor will go over individual medical history. After that, X-rays and MRIs are often ordered. By evaluating the injury up close and personal, a physician can be confident in how they approach treatment.
Depending on the individual's diagnosis and personal set of circumstances, various types of treatments can be recommended, including activity modification, an evaluation of the athlete’s motion and mechanics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and physical therapy. If pain and other symptoms persist following completion of non-operative treatment, surgery may be needed.
Regardless of what type of injury you have, immediate diagnosis and expedient treatment gives you the greatest chance to fully recover with the goal of getting you back to playing the game you love.
Matt J. Bahu, M.D., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the treatment of sports injuries and surgery of the knee, shoulder and elbow. He is chairman of the Orthopedics Department at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and treats patients living in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and surrounding communities.