New techniques can help athletes play pain free

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Everyday, thousands of people are benched due to an injury, but you do not have to play through the pain anymore because surgery can be a real game changer.

Millions of weekend warriors will end up at the doctors office this year. Backs, knees, shoulders, ACL's, and hips are all pushed to the extreme and exhausted. Tim Acevedo was more comfortable on two wheels than two feet until the competitive cyclist was literally thrown off his game.

He says, "I was coming down a hill, and I hit a bump that I didn't see."

Dr. Spero G. Karas, Head Team Physician for the Atlanta Falcons, says, "The bone breaks, the coracoclavicular ligaments tear."

Traditional suture repair failed just one week after surgery. Then, Tim met Dr. Karas, one of the only U.S. surgeons doing clavicle repair with a European device called a sub-acromial hook plate.

Implanted during surgery, studies show the hook plate stabilizes the joint during healing. Three months post-operation, Tim's shoulder was stable enough to remove the plate. Now, he's back on two wheels.

From avid athletes to those who work out just a few times a week, our knees take the most abuse.

Avid runner Gary Stearns says, "My knee got really painful when I was walking or hiking."

If there's a 14,000 foot mountain anywhere in the U.S., Gary Stearns has seen the top of it. However, arthritis in his right knee stopped this avid mountain climber in his tracks. Traditionally, doctors would replace the entire joint. Outpatient partial knee replacement surgery is shorter and less invasive than a total knee.

Dr. Grant Garlick says, "I basically take minimal bone from both the thigh bone, or femur and tibia, or shinbone and replace it with metal, cement and plastic."

Patients are able to walk without crutches or a cane two weeks after surgery. Six months after surgery, Gary was able to climb without pain. Now, there is nothing stopping this climber, this cyclist, or you from pushing your limits pain free.

For tennis fanatics, researchers at Stanford have developed a surgical alternative for tendinitis using your own blood. That is actually done locally by Dr. Steve Simons. I did a Medical Moment with him previously.

The less invasive knee surgery mentioned above is also being done locally by doctors at South Bend Orthopaedics.

Doctors take blood from a healthy part of your body, process it to boost platelet content, and inject it into the affected area in the elbow, kick starting the healing process.

The result is a 93% success rate, equal to surgery, but without the knives.


BACKGROUND: Orthopedic surgeons are using new procedures available for athletes who severely injure themselves. These procedures result in a pain free athlete. The surgeries are aimed at helping athletes who have shoulder, knee, and elbow problems.

SHOULDER: SUB-ACROMIAL HOOK PLATE- The Clavicle Hook Plate provides a single solution for fixation of both lateral clavicle fractures and acromioclavicular joint injuries. The plate and screw construct allows early rotational mobility of the shoulder (Source:

The plate stabilizes the joint during healing. As long as it is healing the athlete will become stronger faster.

PLATELET RICH PLASMA- For athletes who have tendonitis and arthritis in shoulders, elbows, or knees, they can inject their own blood into problem area instead of having surgery. The blood is injected into the damaged tissue. Blood is made of RBC (Red Blood Cells), WBC (White Blood Cells), Plasma, and Platelets. Platelets release healing proteins called growth factors. They mostly generate tissue and wound healing. When the platelets are increased in concentration, they can dramatically heal the problem. This makes the healing time shorter and allows athletes to become pain free (Source:

KNEE: PARTIAL KNEE REPLACEMENT- If the knee is not completely damaged, more orthopedic surgeons are leaning towards partial knee replacement for athletes. The doctors remove damaged tissue and bone in the knee joint and replace the area with a man-made implant. They can replace just the damaged area of the knee that will result in shorter recovery times. Most patients go home the day of surgery and are able to walk without a cane or crutches three to four weeks after surgery (Source:

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