Sports & Orthopaedic Specialists

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As always if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

About Your Recovery

Following surgery, you will be placed into a post-operative brace. Wear the brace as directed in the discharge instructions. In most cases, you are expected to begin therapy 2-3 days following your surgery. Physical therapy is an integral component of your recovery. Your therapist has been specially selected for their expertise in the treatment of your sports related injury. It is advisable to plan to be away from work or school for the first few days after surgery.

You are encouraged to rest and recuperate for those days as much as possible. For shoulder surgery patients, sleeping upright in a recliner type of chair will help reduce the swelling from surgery. For knee surgery patients, lie flat on your back with the operated leg elevated on pillows. If you have been given a block in the hospital, be sure to take your pain medicine before retiring for the night whether you have pain or not. It is important not to fall behind into too much pain and then try to catch up with the pills.

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About Your Surgery

Your surgery will be performed at one of our three trusted facilities;Gilbert Hospital, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, or the SanTan Surgery Center. Most surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis meaning you will return home the same day. If necessary, you may be kept overnight. Of course, joint replacement surgery will require admission to the hospital for 3 or 4 days. In most cases, a special pre-op visit to the hospital will not be required. You will be instructed to arrive early to complete necessary lab work. Expect to spend approximately 6 hours at the hospital. It will be necessary to have someone accompany you especially to drive you home. It is a good idea to have someone available to be with you the night of your surgery.

You may be requested to receive a pre-operative clearance from your medical doctor (primary care doctor). Please be sure to discuss this aspect of care with your surgeon.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will meet members of the anesthesia team who will discuss your anesthesia plan with you. They may recommend a nerve block in addition to general anesthesia. The nerve block will reduce the amount of anesthesia you require making your recovery easier. It will also provide post-operative pain control for up to 12 hours. Your doctor highly recommends these nerve blocks.

In general our operative days are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of course we sometimes have to adjust the schedule to accommodate emergencies. You will be contacted by a member of our staff on the day prior to your surgery to determine what time you will need to arrive at the hospital.

For shoulder surgery patients, you will likely go home with a brace. You are expected to sleep in the brace. It is not uncommon for the shoulder and chest region to be swollen from the fluid used during your procedure. It is helpful to sleep in an upright position so that your swelling drains away from the shoulder. You will not be allowed to remove your arm from the brace or use it until directed by your surgeon or therapist.

For knee surgery patients, you will likely go home in a rigid brace and crutches. Your weight-bearing status will be determined at the time of your surgery. Keep your leg elevated as much as possible in the days following your surgery. If you develop swelling in your foot, it is imperative that you get off your feet and elevate your leg immediately. It is important to sleep in your brace.

For all patients, you will not be permitted to drive until you are off your pain medication. Patients with lower extremity surgery (especially the right leg) will not be permitted to resume driving until they have regained sufficient motor control (you will be notified by your doctor or therapist when it is safe to resume driving.).

You will be contacted by an independent vendor regarding cold therapy and muscle electrostimulation units. These will help speed your recovery, reduce swelling, and control your post-operative pain. In many cases part or all of the cost will be covered by your health insurance. If not, you will be offered the opportunity to lease or purchase these units at a discount. This decision is entirely up to you, but the vast majority of patients feel that this is the best money they have spent.

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Athletic Trainer

Certified athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in preventing, recognizing, managing and rehabilitating injuries that result from physical activity.  They are often the "first responders" at organized athletic events and serve important functions in the preparation and planning for a healthy season. As part of a complete health care team, the certified athletic trainer works under the direction of a licensed physician and in cooperation with other health care professionals, athletics administrators, coaches and parents.

More than 70 percent of certified athletic trainers hold at least a master's degree. To become certified athletic trainers, students must pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification.  Once certified, they must meet ongoing continuing education requirements in order to remain certified. In conjunction with the medical director or team physician, the athletic trainer will organize referrals to appropriately qualified specialists and coordinate the care of the athlete across all medical and surgical specialties.

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Do Sports Medicine Physicians only treat competitive athletes?
  • No, Sports Medicine Physicians are ideal physicians for the non-athlete as well, and are excellent resources for the individual who wishes to become active or begin an exercise program. For the "weekend warrior" or "industrial athlete" who experiences an injury, the same expertise used for the competitive athlete can be applied to return the individual as quickly as possible to full function.
  • Sports Medicine Physicians are dedicated to providing comprehensive and quality care to the active individual.
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Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are health care professionals who treat individuals of all ages with medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes.

State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices. All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. The physical therapist under the direction and supervision of your surgeon will manage the rehabilitation of the athlete following surgery.

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What can a Physician Assistant do for me during my appointment at Sports & Orthopaedic Specialists?

The PA's schedule is often able to accommodate patients quicker than the main physician's schedule. PA's see both new and established patients.

As a highly trained healthcare provider, the PA can obtain the necessary history, perform an examination, order and interpret appropriate tests and then provider a patient with an array of treatment options both surgical and non-operative. Treatments that are typically supervised by the PA include physical therapy, injections such as cortisone or viscosupplementation, bracing/splinting, or prescription of medications. If it is felt that surgical intervention is necessary, a PA can discuss the surgical procedure and recovery with the patient although at Sports & Orthopaedic Specialists, all patients contemplating surgery are evaluated and advised by one of your highly trained Orthopaedic Surgeons. All patient care is discussed with the supervising physician by the PA. If at any time the patient or the physician assistant feels that the complexity of the case requires attention by a physician, the follow-up would be scheduled with the supervising doctor.

A patient should feel comfortable with seeing a physician assistant; however, your preferences should be discussed with the staff when making an appointment. In most cases, the PA is able to spend more time answering questions with the patient and his/her family.

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What is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant (PA) is a healthcare provider who is licensed to practice medicine under the direct supervision of a physician. Like other healthcare professionals, a physician assistant is required to attend an accredited educational program. Once formal schooling is completed, a student must take a national certification exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). When certified, the credentialing initials change from PA to PA-C. They must also become licensed by the state in which they are going to practice. In order to maintain both national certification and state licensure, a PA must complete a minimum of 100 hours of continuing education every two years as well as take and pass the national recertification exam given every six years.

Most often a PA works directly under the tutelage of a single physician. This allows for a team approach when it comes to patient care. In the PA's scope of practice each provider can conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel patients on prevention, assist in surgery, and write medication prescriptions. The physician assistant may also see patients who have been hospitalized following surgery to evaluate their condition and report changes to the doctor.

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What is a Sports Medicine Physician?
  • A physician with specialized training who promotes lifelong fitness and wellness, and encourages prevention of illness and injury. This physician helps the patient maximize function and minimize disability and time away from sports, work, or school.
  • He or she is a leader of the sports medicine team, which also includes specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.
  • They are experienced physicians and surgeons with an interest in athletic disorders. Most obtain 1-2 years of additional training in sports medicine through accredited fellowship (subspecialty) programs in Sports Medicine. Sports Specialists are then eligible to take a subspecialty qualification examination in Sports Medicine. Additional forums, which add to the expertise of a Sports Medicine Physician, include continuing education in sports medicine, and membership and participation in sports medicine societies.
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What is a Team Physician?

Most Sports Medicine Physicians also serve as Team Physicians for local and/or National teams and clubs. These physicians must fulfill published qualifications with the following responsibilities:

  • Pre-participation physical examination
  • Injury assessment and management
  • Care of sports-related injuries
  • Special populations (elderly, disabled, women, youth, etc)
  • Coordinating care with other members of the sports medicine team including athletic trainers, physical therapists, personal physicians, other medical and surgical specialties, sports nutritionists, sports psychologists and other ancillary personnel
  • Communication with athletic trainers, coaches, school administration, as well as athletes and their families
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What is Orthopaedic Sports Medicine?

Orthopaedic sports medicine is the investigation, preservation and restoration by medical, surgical, and rehabilitative means of all structures of the musculoskeletal system that are affected by athletic activity. Orthopaedic sports medicine specialists have advanced specialty training that makes them proficient in the following areas:

  • Treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, as they relate to sports-specific injuries and competition.
  • On-the-field evaluation and management of sports medicine related illnesses and injuries with detailed knowledge of sports-specific musculoskeletal injuries and medical problems.
  • "Return to play" decisions in the sick or injured athlete
  • Coordination of medical care within athletic team settings including other health care professionals, such as athletic trainers, physical therapists, and non-orthopaedic physicians.
  • Conditioning, training, and fitness as it relates to athletic performance.
  • Athletic performance and the impact of dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, and nutrition on athletes' short- and long-term health and performance.
  • Soft tissue biomechanics, injury healing, and repair.
  • Principles and techniques of rehabilitation that enable the athlete to return to competition as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Knowledge of athletic equipment and orthotic devices (braces, foot orthoses, etc.) and their use in prevention and management of athletic injuries.
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What is the difference between a Sports Medicine Surgeon and an Orthopaedic Surgeon?
  • Both are well trained in musculoskeletal medicine. Sports Medicine Specialists are orthopaedic surgeons with additional training in the unique injuries and recovery cycle of athletes. Sports medicine surgeons specialize in the non-operative and operative treatment of musculoskeletal sports conditions. Individuals with advanced expertise in sports medicine are trained to detect subtle conditions that often limit optimum performance and to employ advanced therapies including surgery to restore that potential.
  • Many sports injuries can be managed without surgery and Sports medicine surgeons can expedite referral to appropriate rehabilitative care and ancillary services as needed.
  • Common examples of musculoskeletal problems include:
    • Acute injuries (such as ankle sprains, muscle strains, knee & shoulder injuries, and fractures)
    • Overuse injuries (such as tendonitis, stress fractures)
    • Injury prevention
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