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Should I See a Sports Medicine Specialist?

Any medical condition that does not improve with appropriate measures while compromising daily activities requires attention. Making the right choice of physician, whether family practice doctor or specialist, is an important decision in dealing with any illness or injury.

Participating in sports often causes aches and pains or an injury that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. A sports medicine specialist has medical education and training in family, internal, emergency, or rehabilitation medicine, and has pursued additional sports medicine training.

Sports medicine specialists center their therapies on bone, joint, and muscle care. They understand an athlete’s goals and focus on improving athletic performance, recovery from injury, maintaining peak physical fitness, and preventing future injuries. A sports medicine specialist can be a physician, surgeon, or another type of specialist, like a nutritionist or physical therapist. Primary care sports medicine physicians are specially trained for the total care of athletes and active individuals.

Who Should See a Sports Medicine Specialist

People injured while playing sports may see their family practice doctor to have an injury evaluated. At this point, their treatment approach will probably be the same as might be provided by a sports medicine specialist: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories if needed.

If there is no improvement within a couple weeks, an MRI may be ordered for further evaluation. At this point, you may be referred to a specialist, for their expertise in determining the most appropriate treatment based on the specifics of the injury.

Sports medicine specialists treat acute and chronic injuries – and focus on helping patients prevent future injuries while enhancing their athletic performance through safe strength training, conditioning exercises, and workouts. They evaluate the need for surgery and apply sports psychology principles and therapies.

Injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:

  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Joint injuries
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overuse and Training Injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Care provided by these specialists may include preseason examinations and “return to play” recommendations as a part of a rehabilitation plan.

Types of Sports Medicine Specialists

There are a wide variety of sports medicine specialists available to treat a variety of concerns, including:

Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. They help decide which injuries require specialist attention and can make necessary referrals.

Orthopedists & Orthopedic Surgeons focus on bone and joint problems. They have several years of residency and fellowships beyond their internships. Approximately 90 percent of sports injuries are nonsurgical in nature. When surgery is required, orthopedic surgeons specialize in areas such as back surgery, joint replacement, and ACL repairs.

Physical Therapists treat injuries based on a clinical diagnosis. They often specialize in sports medicine and orthopedics. They integrate training, rehabilitation and injury recovery.

Podiatrists are clinicians with residency training focused on musculoskeletal problems exclusively below the knee. Their clients are runners, joggers, or sports people who often injure their feet or ankles. Biomechanical analysis, normal gait assessment, and prescribing orthotics are their other areas of expertise.

Improving with Sports Medicine

Whether you’re a novice to athletics or want to get to the next performance level, a sports medicine specialist can formulate a comprehensive blueprint that can take you to the peak of athletic performance.

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence has served as official doctors for the U.S. Olympic team, as well as nonprofessional sports patients. For award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment, visit The Center online at www.ccoe.us or call (719) 623-1050.

When Is an Orthopedic Injury an Emergency?

Orthopedic physicians deal with injuries to the bones and their related structures. Orthopedic treatments and procedures cover fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, strained muscles, and similar injuries. They also deal with acquired and congenital skeletal deformities and degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis.

With new knowledge and technology in orthopedic medicine, older procedures have been replaced by bone grafts, joint replacements, prostheses, and special footwear. Orthopedic treatment frequently combines rehabilitation with traditional medicine and surgery.

When Does an Orthopedic Issue Become Urgent?

Orthopedic emergencies are conditions that should be seen by a physician the same day the injury occurs, to help prevent harm and long-lasting negative impact to the patient. Major trauma with complex fractures, deep and/or wide cuts, and loss of consciousness definitely demand immediate care at the hospital emergency room (ER).

Other orthopedic emergency conditions can develop slowly, with little or no apparent trauma. They often occur at home with no obvious injury. It can be difficult to judge whether they qualify as emergencies and need immediate attention, or whether such attention can be deferred, or whether a physician should at least be consulted about the condition.

So if you do have an emergency orthopedic issue, where is the best place to get the care you need? Knowing when and where to go can save you future problems and significant time and money.

Common Emergency Orthopedic Conditions

There are many serious and painful orthopedic conditions. When these occur or are discovered, an immediate call to the orthopedic physician is needed.

The most common orthopedic injuries – which usually occur in the aftermath of surgery or an accident – that require urgent and emergency attention are:

Severe back pain along with weakness in the legs and difficulty in urinating, especially after lumbar spine surgery or epidural spinal injection, could be caused by bleeding in the area around the spinal cord.

Severe pain and swelling in a joint, accompanied by fever and chills, could be due to a joint infection.

Calf pain and swelling shortly after being injured or having surgery in the legs could indicate a blood clot deep in the veins. This can become a life-threatening embolism.

Dislocations are joint injuries that force the bones out of their normal position.

Falls or twists in a post-operative limb, along with significant pain, could mean a positional change in the setting of the fracture, another new fracture, or a dislocation of the new joint.

Increasing pain, swelling, and numb fingers or toes in a patient with a solid cast could indicate cast-compression syndrome.

Neurovascular injury in an injured extremity can compromise neurovascular function. Signs of this type of injury can be pain, numbness, or tingling. Delays in treating the condition can affect nerve function and blood flow to the limb. This can result in the need for amputation of the extremity, or even death.

Exposed fractures or joints, such as open injuries to the knee, sprained ankle, or other broken bones, are severe health concerns requiring immediate attention.

Osteoporosis accompanied by pain in the thigh or groin, and difficulty walking, could mean an osteoporotic fracture of the hip due to insufficient bone matter.

Septic joints can occur when a bacterial infection invades a joint – in the knee, hip, shoulder, or spine. Any joint is vulnerable to infection, so never hesitate to have it evaluated by a physician.

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough manifesting a few weeks after total hip, knee, or shoulder replacement, or any surgery for fractures, could indicate a blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

Spontaneous draining of body fluid oozing out of a wound in a post-operative patient requires treatment by a physician. 

Orthopedic Injuries that Are Treatable at Urgent Care Centers

Most orthopedic injuries can be safely treated at an urgent care center. While life-threatening conditions require true emergency-room treatment, orthopedic urgent care is the better option for treatment of conditions that are not life-threatening, as these specialized facilities are less crowded and pressured. 

Orthopedic urgent care centers can address injuries and problems that include:

  • Cast or splint issues
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Pediatric injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains, strains, and discolorations

Injuries that Should Be Treated at Hospital Emergency Rooms

Any injury or condition that may be life-threatening should always be directed to a hospital emergency department for expert care and management. The emergency room is open 24 hours a day, offers top-of-the-line resources, and is the best choice for severe orthopedic injuries if:

  • Arm or leg is severely fractured and/or out of alignment
  • Bone is fractured and exposed through the skin
  • Significant blood loss has occurred
  • Other injuries from falls or accidents are present

Pediatric Emergency Care 

For severely injured children, the emergency room offers the most appropriate environment for handling their injuries immediately. Emergency rooms also feature the widest range of services and access to medical specialists.

Cases that require pediatric care at a hospital emergency room include:

  • A child with a fractured bone remains in pain and is irritable, despite treatment and medication. This could indicate dangerous swelling at the site of the fracture.
  • A child who has no obvious symptoms of an injury but is crying, restless, feverish, and unable to walk. This could indicate a serious hip joint infection.
  • Children with large, deep cuts or wounds.
  • A child who has positional deformities of the limbs.

Family Orthopedic Care in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence (CCOE) offers expertise spanning the entire spectrum of orthopedic specialties. We can diagnose and treat your orthopedic issues with state-of-the-art treatment options and the personalized care and attention you deserve.

Contact us today and make an appointment with one of our orthopedic doctors for award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment. Fill out our online appointment request form, or call (719) 623-1050 today. We look forward to helping you live a more pain-free and active lifestyle.

Olympian Gus Kenworthy posted videos of a massive blood-filled bump on his hip — after also breaking his thumb

Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy has had a rough couple of days at the Winter Olympics: He broke his thumb and fell hard during practice sessions, causing a large blood-filled lump to form on his hip. On his Instagram story Friday, Kenworthy shared video of the bump before doctors drained it.

“I am in athlete medical. Yesterday I broke my thumb a little bit and today I fell on my hip,” Kenworthy said in a video posted to his story. “I have a massive hematoma and I’m about to get it drained and you guys are coming along to watch.”

hematoma is a type of bruise that often results from injury or impact to the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Simple bruises are flat, but hematomas are swollen, raised, and painful because they contain a mass of clotted or coagulated blood.

Read more here!

I Broke a Bone, What Should I Do?

Broken bones, or fractures, are painful injuries that have a wide range in severity. Most of the time, a broken bone is caused by trauma, such as a fall, an auto accident, or other strong impact. The type of fracture, amount of pain you feel, and presence of other injuries along with the fracture should determine the course of action to take.

Types of fractures and what to do:

·       Stress fracture – This is a simple break where the bone does not come out of place. It usually happens after repeated stress, as in playing sports. You may not be able to move the part of your body with the broken bone, or it may be red, swollen and sore but able to move with some pain. Call your doctor or sports medicine specialist for an appointment the same day the injury occurs. Your doctor will confirm the fracture with an X-ray and treat it by immobilizing it as needed.

·       Stable fracture – A “clean” break where the bone remains aligned but there is a break across the bone. Depending on the amount of pain and whether you can move the limb or not, you should go to the ER for immediate treatment. If the pain is not extreme, you should call your primary care physician or orthopedic specialist for a same-day appointment.

·       Compound fracture – If a bone breaks and there is any wound that breaks the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. The bone may be visible through the wound, or not. This type of fracture means the bone is out of place and may be broken in more than one place. Emergency help is needed, especially considering the risk of bleeding and/or infection.

·       Comminuted fracture – If a bone shatters into three or more pieces, the fracture is called comminuted. This type of fracture can occur when there is a great deal of force, like from a car accident or a bullet. Emergency attention is needed and surgery from an orthopedic physician will be necessary. 

The most advanced orthopedic care in Colorado Springs is found at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence. From professional sports medicine including the US Olympic team, to treatment of conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons provide the best possible care. If you have a non-emergent broken bone, call (719) 623-1050 for a priority appointment.