Many orthopaedic injuries and ailments can be treated effectively with conservative approaches that involve non-surgical treatment. There is a wide range of non-surgical treatment techniques to effectively treat muscle pain, skeletal pain and lack of mobility caused by an acute injury or osteoarthritis.
Orthopaedic non-surgical treatment options may include topical or oral medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and minimally invasive procedures performed in the office to relieve pressure and pain. These treatments can restore proper movement, strengthen muscles and joints and increase your range of motion.
An orthopaedic specialist can work with you to design an individualized treatment plan based on your unique needs and activity goals. In some cases, resting the affected area and allowing it to repair on its own is the only care needed. Often a brace, orthotic, sling, cane or other assistive device can allow the injury to repair.
Physical or occupational therapy is common for most orthopaedic conditions to strengthen muscle and surrounding tissue, but also to train your body to move correctly and prevent later injury.
Many athletes can also avoid re-injury by increasing core strength and flexibility specific to the movements required for their sport. For example, a baseball player may be experiencing shoulder pain related to repetitive movement. By assessing the overall conditioning of the athlete as well as treating the acute problem, we can often recommend specific exercises to strengthen the joint and avoid a recurring injury.
Prescription medications from your orthopaedist may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or nerve pain medications to relieve pain while the injury repairs. A program of injections, which may include a combination of corticosteroid and numbing medicine, could be prescribed to relieve pain and improve function.
Sprains, muscle injuries, tendonitis and ligament damage are common activity-related injuries that can be treated initially with treatment process commonly known as RICE therapy. This well-known acronym has been adapted somewhat and involves the following:
- Relative Rest – Gentle stretching of the affected area can be helpful after an injury
- Ice – Apply ice packs to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes, 3-4 times per day. Be sure to place a towel over the injured area before applying the ice pack as direct contact with the skin can cause an ice burn. Ice is most effective in the first 2-3 days.
- Compression – In order to reduce swelling and to restrict movement, gentle compression bandages can be used.
- Elevation – By raising the injured limb to a comfortable and elevated position, swelling can be reduced, and the limb will be at full rest.
Although RICE therapy is widely used for many sports injuries, it may not be sufficient for more serious injuries. You should seek medical attention if you experience the following:
- Joint swelling, locking or instability
- Visible deformity or mass in arms, legs or joints
- Inability to fully move a joint, arm or leg
- Inability to stand or walk
- Back or neck pain – especially if there is also numbness, weakness or pain that runs down the arm or leg
- Pain that does not go away
- Pain that disrupts daily activity or sleep
Remember, anytime joint or musculoskeletal problems prevent you from doing the things you enjoy most, seek medical attention. An orthopaedic specialist can help you get off the sidelines and back into the game.
About Jim Fiechtl, M.D.
He treats patients with all types of sports injuries, including concussions, and non-surgical orthopaedic problems.
Fiechtl completed his medical training at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and completed a residency program in Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. He completed a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at Vanderbilt University and earned a Master of Management in Healthcare from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt.
As a primary care orthopaedic specialist, Fiechtl works with patients to treat their orthopaedic problems with the most conservative approaches possible as well as alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga. Fiechtl particularly enjoys working with athletes of all ages and levels, finds it most gratifying to help patients heal and return to the activities they want to do as quickly as possible.Share this Article
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