Patients of all ages can have injuries that require treatment by a physician trained in sports medicine.
Although a number of these injuries are a result of playing sports, a large number occur simply by being pulled by the family dog while out for a walk, twisting a limb and falling, or, sometimes, for no discernible reason at all. The injuries are usually to soft tissues, which include ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage. Most of the time, no surgery is needed, says Richard J. Mitchell, M.D., M.S., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with St. Clair Orthopedic Associates, part of St. Clair Medical Services. Specific, directed physical therapy, in conjunction with anti-inflammatory medications, are often needed to address most issues. Occasionally, surgery is necessary, and minimally invasive arthroscopic surgeries can be beneficial. Regardless, it is very useful to see a physician trained in sports medicine to help ascertain how that treatment is directed.
Dr. Mitchell says many patients injured while playing sports present with ligament injuries such as a torn ACL, which often occurs when athletes quickly change direction on the field of play. Most younger patients with this injury opt for an arthroscopic reconstruction of that ligament. The MCL is a different ligament in the knee, most commonly treated with non-operative management.
Rotator cuff injuries damage a set of four shoulder tendons and commonly occur in patients over 50, with no previous history of injury. However, these injuries can be debilitating to a shoulder and lead to significant irreversible changes if not addressed early. Rotator cuff injuries often can be repaired by a skilled arthroscopic surgeon through a few small holes in the skin.
Dr. Mitchell, a San Francisco native who resides with his family in Mt. Lebanon, is passionate about taking care of patients suffering with shoulder and knee pain. “Taking away pain and restoring function so patients can get back to the lifestyle and activities they love is what drives me,” he says. To contact Dr. Mitchell, please call 412-942-7262.