Michael L Gross, MD  
Male, 64
Hackensack,Westwood, NJ

Specialties: orthopedic surgery, sports medicine

Interests: Orthopedics, Knee and Shoulder Arthroscopy
Active Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
Hackensack, NJ
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What is Sports Medicine? Five questions

Jan 31, 2011 - 11 comments

The terms “sports medicine” and “sports medicine doctor” are commonly used by athletes, coaches, trainers, patients, and even other doctors.  However, it is really fairly unclear as to exactly what these, and quite a few other terms are referring to.  Listed below are the five most common questions, and their answers, in hopes of giving you some guidance through the maze of sports medicine.

1. What is Sports Medicine?
Sports Medicine is the branch of medicine that is concerned with the treatment of injuries or illness resulting from athletic or recreational activities. Sports Medicine involves the prevention and treatment of injuries to athletes and other physically active people, as well as the use of exercise for recovery from non-sports injuries. Orthopedic (musculoskeletal system) surgeons (MDs) often specialize in sports medicine. The phrase “sports medicine” is not specific to one career/profession.  Instead, it encompasses a group of professionals from various disciplines whose focus is the health of an athlete. Athletes can be all ages and play on all different levels (youth, high school, collegiate, recreational, and professional).
Orthopedic sports medicine is a specific area in the sports medicine family that is concerned with the investigation, preservation, and restoration by medical, surgical, and rehabilitative means to all structures of the musculoskeletal system affected by athletic activity. While sports medicine originally began as an offshoot of several broader fields, designed to treat athletes in a way that allowed early, safe and efficient return to the playing field, the techniques and principles of sports medicine and now being brought back to general medicine. These methods are now being used to bring workers back to work, or simply to restore function to athletes and non athletes alike, to allow for efficient return to the activities of daily living.

2. What is a Sports Medicine Physician?
A Sports Medicine physician is a doctor 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, parents, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.
After completing residency, they obtain 1-2 years of additional training in sports medicine through accredited fellowship (subspecialty) programs in Sports Medicine. Physicians, who are board certified in their specialty, such as Orthopedic Surgery, 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. Many specialties including general medicine, family practice, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and of course, orthopedic surgery, offer advanced training and subspecialty certification in sports medicine. Each specialty brings its own expertise to the field.

3. 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.  Most sports medicine physicians treat non athletes as well.  In doing so, they adapt the techniques and protocols that allow for athletes to regain a high level of function, to achieve the same goal for non-athletes in the normal daily lives.  From a worker injured on the job, to a stay at home mother hurt while playing with her kids, any patient can benefit from the application of sports medicine techniques to their problems.

4. What are the most common Sports Medicine Injuries?
Most Sports Medicine injuries fall into one of two categories: acute and chronic, or overuse. Acute injuries occur suddenly and are the result of a collision, a fall, or a simple twist. Chronic, or overuse, injuries are the results of repetitive stress placed upon a single body part. When repetitive stresses are increased too rapidly or with too much intensity and the body is not adequately prepared, an injury occurs.  When looking at the most common injuries, some of them are acute, and some are overuse. The seven most common sports injuries in order are:
• Ankle sprain
• Groin pull
• Hamstring strain
• Shin splints
• Knee injury: ACL tear
• Knee injury: Patellofemoral Syndrome
• Knee injury:  meniscus (cartilage) tear
• Tennis elbow:  lateral epicondylitis
• Shoulder injury:  Rotator cuff tear
• Shoulder injury:  AC separation
• Shoulder injury:  Dislocation

5. Does a Sports Medicine Orthopedist only treat injuries?
While a great deal of a sports medicine specialist’s time is spent treating injuries in athletes and non-athletes alike, much of the time is also spent on other responsibilities.  Much of the focus of sports medicine is on injury prevention.  Another large area of concern is the area of conditioning and optimizing performance.  Educating and coordinating coaches, athletes and the other members of the sports medicine team is also the responsibility of the sports physician.   Family doctors on the team often deal other issues such as cardiac evaluations, skin conditions, infections and asthma, but orthopedic sports doctors generally limit their scope to musculoskeletal problems.
Orthopedic sports medicine specialists…
• Condition and train athletes.
• Provide fitness advice relating to athletic performance.
• Give advice on athletic performance and the impact of dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, and nutrition on athletes’ short- and long-term health and performance.
• Coordinate medical care within athletic team settings, including other health care professionals, such as athletic trainers, physical therapists, and non-orthopedic physicians.
• Conduct on-the-field evaluation and management of illnesses and injuries.
Orthopedic sports medicine specialists have knowledge of…
• Soft tissue biomechanics, injury healing, and repair.
• Treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, as they relate to sports-specific injuries and competition.
• 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 supports, etc.) and their use in prevention and management of athletic injuries.

After an athletic injury, initial care often consists of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  After a short time if the pain or swelling persist, or there is an inability to return to sports or regular activity, it is probably time to see the doctor.  With the information provided, hopefully the choice of which doctor see will not be as confusing.

Dr. Michael L. Gross, the founder and director of Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine P.A., www.ActiveOrthopedics.com , is the section chief for sports medicine and the orthopedic director for the center for sports medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.  Recognizing the importance of nutrition and alternative health in both sports medicine and overall wellness, The Active Group, LLC has added the Active Center for Health and Wellness,  www.activecenterforhealthandwellness.com which features one on one fitness training, diet coaching, massage therapy, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, anti-aging and preventative medicine, and aesthetic medical services.        

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by jdesouza, Feb 03, 2011
This is a great blog.
The terms are very confusing and this really helps in understanding whom to see when you get injured.

Avatar universal
by tic0107, Feb 09, 2011
Hi, actually I have questions to ask you. Just read when you free. Better tell you my case first. I met accident 3 years ago and hit my right brain. Now it affect my left part. My left body can't move well. My left eye also can't see as well. Just 2 or 3 yeard ago, I do not take care and ask questions.

But now I already work and have some problems come out. My memory also not good. I saw back my ex-video clips when I injured, really weak and can't walk as well. Now although I can walk, but left part especially left lower part leg can't move as well. i also go for fitness training, but really hard to improve a lot. I feel a bit not improving at all. Hope you got good suggestions for me.

My left eye really weak. Even my right eye can see but I think a bit worse than before. My right eye not that worse that before. My left eye can't see I also no comment but my right eye a bit weak than before. Even I tell eye doctor but also no further comment. Not sure eye doctor don't know or the real case really like that. Hope you got good suggestions for me.

For these 2 situations already make me worry and I can't happy, any good way can avoid from thinking it. Off cause I hope better than I don't need worry. But real case not like this. Do you any good ways can avoid thinking of it. But in reality, the poor eyes really worsen my mood. I try not to think it but really hard to do. I just feel relaxed when I play book game which I still can play. For a short moment I can forget the worse part.when playing but in reality, I also cannot always play it.

I think I more worse than before. Actually 2 or 3 years before, I didn't think like this. because eyes not worse than now. But now I worry my eyes and leg, just ask do you think any method can help to cure it or good way to improve my mood. Just wonder any good methods I can do?

Thanks a lot

Avatar universal
by lightnic, May 09, 2011
hello tic,

Believe yourself,just optimistic and you will get over it,it needs step and step recovery,so do not worried about it.

Avatar universal
by rugoo, Jul 26, 2011
Dear Doctor,
I underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure three months back. Sutures were applied to my lateral meniscus to keep the torn portions in tact. Also as per the arthroscopic findings, surgeon diagnosed a compression fracture in femoral condoyle region and I was recommended a complete bed rest for 02 weeks. Afterwards, I returned to work but kept myself to office work.
After six weeks, I had a follow up visit and as per my surgeon everything was fine and recovery could be noticed. Initially, I had to keep my knee straight and there was a bit of swelling. Swelling kept on subsiding and started to walk with normal gait. Also during the follow up visit, I was allowed by my doctor to walk and to carry on thigh muscle strengthening exercises.
But as for today, I have developed a pain as well as huge amount of swelling on the portion where calf terminates and knee starts. I am unable to understand, have talked to my surgeon too, he has prescribed some anti-inflammatory. But I still am in a shock as what happened, I was recovering normally, I had started to walk, did no exert all and suddenly in a matter of one night I have a swollen knee.
What in your opinion might have happened?

An eager sportsman!

Avatar universal
by cliff_merchant, Sep 24, 2011
I'm in school right now and I have a career in sports medicine, want to be a sports medicine doctor, but either way, I want to universities that offer decent degree graduate programs of these careers.
Any advice?
Besides, what if I want to leave important to any of these careers?
Cliff Merchant MD,

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by threehappypenguins, Oct 20, 2011
What about people that aren't being athletic and have musculoskeletal problems? My husband won't hurt himself at all and will suddenly wake up with random sacroiliac joint pain (sometimes it's so bad he can't even move), wrist pain (he was told it was De Quervain's Tenosynovitis), foot pain (told it was sinus tarsi syndrome), neck pain, etc. Right now he can't even move his neck and he didn't even do anything!

What kind of specialist would he talk to then? It sounds like this is only for people who have clear cut "injuries."

Avatar universal
by saca96, Aug 15, 2012
I ve got a question what about people who . have  had a joint injury  for three years to middle knuckle joint and are questioning weather or not they   should it get looked at by an orthopedic
or leave it alone again its been messed up for three years its all thanks to a person puposely (Basicaly a group of Bullies) punching my hand and it was not until i heard a loud pop sound and almost  immediatly it turned black is bluish. Every so often it will go cold and turn a purplish bluish color .
Would Accupuncture clear up the problem or no?

Avatar universal
by edelq, Nov 05, 2013
I am recovering from a cuboid break on my left foot and abut to return to work, I am a female bartender and need advice on a shoe type etc

Avatar universal
by JD1963, Apr 19, 2014
Dr. Gross,

I was wondering if you were still involved with MedHelp? I am the new Orthopedic Community Leader there and I was checking all available resources. I am a Orthopedic Surgical First Assistant (25+ years).

Thanks  JD1963

Avatar universal
by mireilleb, May 24, 2014
I have a question what is the cause that my finger toe of my legs are getting far from each other.

Also i have question i am feeling i can't stand anymore on my legs am getting tired  what is the reason of this is it due to lack of vitamins deficiencies.

Thanks a lot

Avatar universal
by aaaaabbbb, Oct 20, 2015
My son (13 year old) injured while playing soccer on July 13, 2015. The injury occurred in a collision with other player, having said that knee of the other player banked on the left hip of my son. As a result of this, he suffered severe pain on that area with difficulties in walking. X ray report indicated possible injury with a suspicion note, as it may be a 'possible mild cortical avulsion at the left ischial tuberosity'. Specialist suggested to go for physiotherapy treatment and also advised to keep away from intense physical activities for a period of 4-6 weeks as it will heal. After 8 weeks, no pain during normal activities and also walking as usual except soreness while sitting for long. But he couldn't run fast even after 8 weeks as pain starts once he puts more pressure on that muscle. Then specialist suggested to go for an MRI in September 2015, which concluded that ' it is a partial avulsion of the ischial tuberosity and left hamstring' - some of the cortical bone is detached along with the hamstring tendon, and also it indicates that there is fluid between the hamstring and the bony. Now, the specialist has advised him to continue the physiotherapy for another 3 months, keep away from physical activities and it will heel!. We are continuing as per the advice.

Therefore, if anyone has experience in this kind of injuries and can give us valuable advice, you are mostly welcome. We want our son go back to the soccer field as soon as possible as he loves playing sports very much. It is very hard for us to see him keep away from sports and sitting on the bench.

Thank you in advance.

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