Why Surgeons Want to Avoid Surgery in Sports Medicine

When you’re an athlete, an eventual injury is almost inevitable. Whether you participate in a full-contact sport like football or just do gentle yoga, the risk of injury from accident or overuse is always present. When you see your sports medicine professional, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately recommend surgery to address your injury.

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It may be odd to think of someone avoiding the very thing they’re trained for. A pilot who doesn’t want to fly or an architect who is reluctant to design buildings would certainly raise some eyebrows. The thing is, surgeons are—first and foremost—healthcare providers. Their goal is to maintain your quality of life for as long as possible. While some injuries may very well require some surgery to repair, a good surgeon will try an appropriate conservative measure first.

What are Conservative Measures?

Conservative measures are noninvasive treatment methods used in an attempt to improve your condition without surgery. They can consist of the following.

  • Medications: Pain medications and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your sports medicine provider in Denver. These medicines can ease your pain and reduce swelling. They’re often prescribed for short-term problems or mild irritations of the joints.
  • Rest: This is the simplest conservative measure. A lot of sports injuries result from simply overdoing it. If your sports medicine provider wants you to take it easy for a while, listen to them. It might prevent further, more severe injury.
  • Ice/Heat: The proper application of ice and/or heat to an injured area can help with swelling, range of motion, and pain. Sometimes this is all it takes to get you back to 100 percent after a mild injury.
  • Bracing: With repetitive stress injuries like tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, a brace is sometimes prescribed to help ease symptoms. Be sure to wear your brace as instructed to gain the maximum benefit.
  • Physical Therapy: A course of physical therapy with a qualified therapist is often recommended by Denver sports medicine providers. If improvement can be made during physical therapy, surgery can sometimes be avoided or postponed.


Benefits of Conservative Measures

So, what’s so great about avoiding surgery, anyway? While surgery is almost always unavoidable for certain injuries, like complete ACL tears in the knee and ruptured biceps tendons, it’s usually not the preferred method of dealing with sports injuries. For one, surgery carries a longer downtime than conservative measures. Your surgical recovery period means no training for a while and a reduced training regimen for even longer.

Another factor is that surgery never comes with an absolute guarantee. Each case is unique, and even an experienced, highly-trained surgeon cannot promise a certain outcome. Therefore, it’s possible that, even with surgery, your injury may never completely return to normal. Surgery is simply another treatment modality, not a magic fix.

So, even if you eventually need surgery for a sports injury, expect your sports medicine provider to try some conservative treatments first. With luck and adherence to their advice, you might be able to avoid surgery altogether.


5 Procedures Performed By Orthopedic Surgeons That Don’t Involve Fractures

Almost everyone knows at least one person who’s had orthopedic surgery. Maybe you were unlucky enough to fall out of a tree as a kid and needed screws or plates in the bones of your arm. Or perhaps your aunt broke her hip during a fall and needed a replacement. While an orthopedic surgeon would perform the surgery in both of the above examples, their expertise is by no means limited to bone fractures.

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In fact, an orthopedic surgeon does many other procedures. Almost any surgery that involves the bones, tendons, ligaments, and sometimes muscles may be carried out by an orthopedic surgeon. Here are the details of five such examples below:


Bunions are a bone deformity in the feet, most often encountered in the great toes. Bunions almost always require surgery for correction. While there are several types of bunion surgeries, all can be carried out by an orthopedic surgeon. Some orthopedic surgeons even specialize in bunionectomies and other orthopedic procedures involving the feet.

Achilles Tendon Repair

The Achilles tendon, which runs up the heel of the foot, is vital for foot flexion, extension, and simply walking. This tendon can be ruptured or torn from overstretching or trauma. A rupture of the Achilles tendon is extremely painful and debilitating. An experienced orthopedic surgeon in Denver is able to perform Achilles tendon repairs and get their patients mobile again.

Biceps Tendon Repair

Unfortunately, you don’t have to be a body builder to injure the biceps tendons in your arms. A tear of the biceps muscle or its tendons often results in pain, weakness, and visible deformity. However, an orthopedic surgeon can address this injury surgically with a biceps tendon repair.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition often resulting from repetitive use that is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. It is caused by impingement, or pinching, of the median nerve in the forearm. Carpal tunnel release surgery, performed by an orthopedic surgeon denver, relieves pressure on the median nerve and leads to an improvement in symptoms.

Rotator Cuff Issues

The shoulder is one of the most versatile joints in the human body and one that we use very frequently. Unfortunately, the rotator cuff of the shoulder can be prone to tears and other problems. Rotator cuff injuries are accompanied by pain and loss of range of motion. An orthopedic surgeon can offer a rotator cuff repair to correct such problems, lessening pain and restoring range of motion.

Although orthopedic surgeons are specialists at fixing broken bones, repairing fractures is only a portion of what they do. From torn ligaments and tendons to repairing bone deformities, an orthopedic surgeon must be an expert in the surgical treatment of the entire musculoskeletal system, including the soft tissue components. So, if you break a bone, certainly see an orthopedic surgeon, but also remember that an orthopedic surgeon can address many other complaints as well.