There are millions of Americans who deal with aches and pains or have experienced a major. injury in their lifetime. It almost seems inevitable, so why not be prepared? Dr. Gregg Kuhlmann, DO, who specializes in sports medicine, orthopedics, and occupational medicine at Capital Region Medical Center, sees a wide range of cases that benefit from orthopedic intervention.
“A sports medicine physician can see a wide variety of injuries, which is part of the appeal for me,” says Dr. Kuhlmann. “The top two joints are definitely the knee and shoulder, but a sports medicine physician can also diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses. After that, I see back and neck pain, along with elbow, wrist, hand, hip, foot, and ankle injuries. These vary widely in timing (acute vs. chronic) and age of the patient (pediatric, adult, geriatric) and vary between soft tissue (tendon and ligament/muscle) injuries and bone injuries, such as fractures. Also, nerve impingements in the arm and leg can occur, which we diagnose and treat as well.”
A sports medicine physician can see a wide variety of injuries…The top two joints are definitely the knee and shoulder…DR. GREGG KUHLMANN
For athletes, football is the high school and college sport in which Dr. Kuhlmann and his team see the most acute injuries. Concussions are also a big area of concern during football season. Not only can they cause concern for the brain, the high velocity trauma sustained during impact can cause injury to the head and neck region. Since signs of a concussion may not be present immediately, it is always a good idea for athletes to get evaluated by a doctor after sustaining a head injury. But of course, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, track and cross-country can have their fair share of acute and repetitive injuries as well. Signs of acute injuries can include sudden or severe pain, tender bruising, weakness, and limited movement. Limited movement may include not being able to place weight on an injured limb, not being able to move a joint normally, or a visible dislocation.
“Common signs and symptoms that I think are red flags and need to be evaluated by a sports medicine physician are pain and swelling in the affected joint, locking or catching, and giving out (instability). These symptoms may correlate with a more severe injury and need at the very least an Xray and most likely an MRI to get an accurate diagnosis. We use imaging tools to rule out and rule in certain medical injuries that may be treated surgically or non-surgically.”
As for occupational medicine, Dr. Kuhlmann evaluates a lot of workplace injuries and commonly treats lacerations, fractures, and soft tissue overuse injuries. While nonsurgical treatments can be an option, the healing process should involve much more than the typical at-home remedies and a couple of days’ rest.
If a patient can avoid injury by putting in work strengthening or stretching certain body parts, this is a great way to prevent having to come to the doctor in the first place.— DR. GREGG KUHLMANN
• Assess workload, nutrition, and weight loss • Strengthen muscles • Stretch often • Get adequate sleep • Take supplements • Exercise often • Avoid certain activities
“Most of the time, patients are doing ice, heat, rest, and compression at home before they are seen in the office. These simple things do help; but if they don’t, that’s when we can off er medications and/or steroid injections to treat their condition. I also recommend formal physical therapy to educate patients on what they can do to rehab their injury. Other options, which are becoming more mainstream, are platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and stem cell injections. These are minimally invasive in-office procedures to treat chronic tendon, ligament, and joint injuries that are failing conservative treatment or if the patient wants to augment their own body’s healing of certain injuries.”
At the end of the day, staying active and determining risks is still the best way to prevent injury, and physicians should be vigilant about their discussions with and education of patients regarding avoiding orthopedic injuries.
“Scientific literature is full of data that we rely on to guide our patients in preventative measures. I always talk about ‘pre-hab’ instead of ‘re-hab.’ If a patient can avoid injury by putting in work strengthening or stretching certain body parts, this is a great way to prevent having to come to the doctor in the first place. This includes counseling patients on nutrition, sleep, weight loss, supplements, workout regimens, and even avoiding certain activities that can cause harm.”
While taking measures to prevent injuries from happening is key, accidents and a bit of wear and tear over the years are bound to happen. Don’t just let pain determine whether or not to seek treatment. Any impaired movements and struggles with daily tasks should be looked over by a physician to prevent issues from worsening.