Sports Medicine: Non-Surgical Options
For many sports-related injuries, surgery is not required.
When non-surgical options offer a strong likelihood of success, the orthopedic surgeons at Hurley Medical Center recommend these more conservative treatments. Less-invasive options tend to have fewer side effects and, if the injury fails to heal properly or completely, surgery remains an alternative.
We regularly offer the following non-surgical treatment options at our Outpatient Clinic or at Hurley Medical Center:
The physical therapists in our Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Services Department treat muscular and skeletal conditions using a range of non-invasive methods, including special exercises, stretching, ultrasound, ice and heat therapy, electrical stimulation, aquatic therapy and biofeedback, to treat sports-related injuries.
Our physical therapy treatment plans are customized to address your needs, promote speedy recovery and minimize pain. Before recommending a specific physical therapy plan of action, our orthopedic physicians will assess the severity and suspected cause of the problem and the options that are most likely to bring positive results.
Patient education is a critical component of physical therapy. You will be taught specific exercises to perform, some of which can be done at home and others of which are done with the supervision of the physical therapist. As treatment for the injury itself concludes, the physical therapist will often work with the athlete on performance techniques that can help prevent reinjury.
Your physician may prescribe medications alone or in conjunction with other therapies or surgery. These medications may include:
NSAIDs: NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin, inbuprofen (e.g., Advil), naproxen (e.g., Aleve) and nabumetone (e.g., Relafen). These medications can help reduce pain, inflammation and fever. While some require a prescription, many can be purchased over-the-counter at your local drugstore.
Cortisone: Cortisone shots, as well as oral (by mouth) and topical (ointments) versions of the medication, can help decrease inflammation, provide energy and help the body repair tissue. One advantage of delivering cortisone by injection is that it can provide very high concentrations of the medication minimizing potential side effects to a minimum. These injections usually work within a few days, and the effects can last up to several weeks. Cortisone and its related corticosteroid medication should only be prescribed by a medical professional and the patient must be monitored carefully.
Muscle Relaxants: Muscle relaxants can decrease pain caused by muscle spasms that accompany back or bone pain. While there are a number of muscle relaxants that a doctor can prescribe a patient, perhaps the best known of this group of medications is Valium. Muscle relaxants work by having an overall sedative effect on the body, which causes the muscles to relax and reduce the stress they are placing on the injured or painful area.
Narcotics: When pain is very severe, narcotics may be prescribed. Because these are powerful and potentially addictive medications, they must only be taken under close supervision of a physician. This family of drugs includes Darvocet®, Vicodin®, Percocet® and Oxycontin®. Narcotics work best in treating pain for a short time. After two weeks or so, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug and the drug becomes less effective. If you are taking any of these prescription narcotics, be sure to report any unusual symptoms to your doctor right away.
Orthotics are devices such as braces, shoe inserts and rods attached directly to bone, that are designed to support or correct musculoskeletal problems. Orthotic can help people who have suffered a sports injury by protecting areas of the body from further deformities; by promoting healing; by replacing or enhancing functionality and stability in areas of the body that may be weakened or injured; and by increasing mobility while decreasing rehabilitation time.
Our orthopedic surgeons are highly skilled in prescribing a wide range of orthotics, from complex bracing systems to foot orthotics. Orthotic devices can be especially helpful in preventing an existing problem from getting worse. Orthotics can be used permanently, as in hardware to support bone, or temporarily in order to provide support to an unstable part of the body. Simple orthotics can be bought in drugstores; others must be custom-made for the individual patient.
Rehabilitative massage is a combination of several massage and manual therapy techniques that together can create functional improvements in soft tissue conditions and injuries. Some of the known clinical effects of the therapeutic massage include promotion of fluid exchange (blood and lymph) to increase oxygenation of the tissue; increases in new tissue cells to promote repair and healing of injuries; strengthening of weak muscles and normalizing of muscle function; mobilization of restricted joints; and promotion of normal neurological function in soft tissues.