Athletic Injuries

Rotator Cuff Surgery

rotator cuffThe rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and their attached muscles that stabilize the shoulder and allow you to raise and rotate your arm. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the collarbone (clavicle), and the shoulder blade (scapula). The rotator cuff helps keep the ball of the arm bone seated into the socket of the shoulder blade.

When the tendons and muscles of the rotator cuff are overly stretched or damaged, the shoulder may begin to hurt. Patients with a rotator cuff tear usually have a dull ache in their upper arm in the area of the deltoid muscle. Neck pain on the same side may develop over time, as well as dull headaches. Patients may experience weakness or “popping” in the shoulder. and have difficulty with over-head shoulder activities (tennis, swimming, getting dressed). Night pain is a common finding with rotator cuff injuries, and may result in the inability to sleep.

If you’ve torn your rotator cuff, your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods. These include exercises using light weights and rubber bands, anti-inflammatory medications and massage to relieve discomfort. Continued pain and inability to perform the activities of daily living are the primary indications for surgery, and if you’re very active and use your arms for overhead work or sports, your doctor may also suggest surgery.

Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff most typically involves sewing the torn edges of the tendon to their insertion on the top of the humerus, but partial tears may only require a trimming or smoothing procedure (debridement) to remove loose fragments of tendon, thickened bursa, and other debris from around the shoulder joint.

In open shoulder surgery, a surgeon makes an incision in the shoulder to open it and view the shoulder directly while repairing it. However, most tears can be fixed via arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is a minimally invasive technique for repairing a damaged rotator cuff. Using a small fiberoptic camera, the surgeon repairs the rotator cuff through 2-3 small incisions (portals) in the shoulder. Arthroscopic techniques result in less pain and stiffness, thus leading to a faster initial recovery time. Because arthroscopic tools are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions, rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery.

Surgery for rotator cuff repair requires significant recovery time. The patient will most likely wear a sling for four to six weeks. It will take approximately 3 months for initial healing of the tendon, but patients may begin light activities, such as writing and typing, almost immediately after surgery. Light weightlifting and shoulder strengthening begins 10-12 weeks post-operatively. You may not have significant pain relief or an increase in motion for several months following rotator cuff surgery. The healing process, coupled with physical therapy takes an extended period of time, sometimes up to six to nine months for a full recovery.

About Dr. Karas

Spero Karas, MDSpero Karas, MD,  is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. Dr. Karas is an internationally recognized expert in his field, which includes sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee, and arthroscopic surgery. He has been recognized as one of America’s “Top Orthopaedic Doctors” in Men’s Health Magazine April 2007 and “Top Sports Medicine Specialists for Women” in Women’s Health Magazine. Atlanta Magazine has named him “Atlanta’s Most Trusted Sports Medicine Specialist” for the past eight years.

Dr. Karas came to Emory in 2005, after serving as Chief of the Shoulder Service and team physician at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He currently serves as team physician for the Atlanta Falcons, as well as a consulting team physician for Emory University and Georgia Tech athletics. He cares for patients and athletes of all levels: professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational.

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Takeaways from Dr. Mason’s live chat on “How to Run and Train for Running Races and Other Athletic Adventures”

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the live chat with Amadeus Mason, MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Family Medicine. Dr. Mason answered questions about how new runners can develop a plan for training and working up to a long race. He also discussed proper training before a marathon as well as running shoes and how frequently to replace them.

Below are a few questions and answers from the chat. You can see all of the questions and answers by reading the chat transcript.

Question:  Are there any special precautions of which “new” runners with low back pain should be mindful?

Amadeus Mason, MDDr. Mason:
Running should not be causing low back pain. If your low back pain was already present before you started running, or you are experiencing low back pain after running, I recommend you be evaluated to find out why.
 
 
 
Question:  I would love to become a runner. As of now I am training using the Get Running app. I want to know if this is a good way to ease into running so, that I may one day be able to run a 5K?

Amadeus  Mason, MDDr. Mason:
There is no one, single way to work up to running a 5K. While I am not familiar with that specific app, I would recommend some general principles to help prevent injury:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Stick to your plan.
  3. Progress slowly and never increase pace and distance at the same time.
  4. Cross train, taking regular rest days. Consider running every other day.
  5. A 5K is only 3.1miles. There’s no need to be running longer than five miles at any individual session.

If you missed this chat with Dr. Mason, be sure to check out the full chat transcript!

Visit our website for more information about Emory Sports Medicine Center.

Takeaways from Dr. Olufade’s Ankle Sprain Chat

Ankle SprainThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, May 27, for our live online chat on “Symptoms, diagnosis and treating an ankle sprain,” hosted by Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine physician Oluseun Olufade, MD.

With summer coming into full swing, a lot of us are out, about and getting more active. Some of our activities can lead to ankle sprains. Dr. Olufade discussed some common misconceptions about treating sprained ankles and exercises you can do to strengthen your ankles to help prevent sprains.

See all of Dr. Olufade’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: My son rolled his ankle this weekend at the beach. What do I need to do?

Oluseun Olufade, MDDr. Olufade: Great question! We use something called the RICE principle. Start with “R”est by staying off the foot, “I”ce the ankle for 20 minutes at a time every hour or two, use “C”ompression, like an Ace bandage, and “E”levate the foot as much as possible.

 

Question: What are some common mistakes that people make when they think they have an ankle sprain? In other words, what do people do to “treat” ankle sprains that can actually make them worse?

Oluseun Olufade, MDDr. Olufade: Ankle sprains can be associated with fractures. Some people try to “walk it off” if they think they have an ankle sprain, and without a proper diagnosis, you could actually be doing more damage to your ankle without knowing it.

If you do have an ankle sprain (not a fracture) I would recommend resting the injured ankle for 3-5 days. Some people worry and stay off of the foot for too long. Prolonged immobilization will make for a longer recovery. People often also make the mistake of using heat on the acute ankle sprain. Heat can actually worsen swelling, so ice packs are recommended instead of heat.

Question: How can you tell if you have a fracture and not just a sprain? Are there any additional symptoms other than increased pain?

Oluseun Olufade, MDDr. Olufade: Fractures are usually diagnosed by x-rays. You should see a doctor to confirm whether you have a fracture or not.
 
 
 
 
 
If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. You can also visit emoryhealthcare.org/ortho for a full list sports medicine treatments offered.

If you have additional questions for Dr. Olufade, fee free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Are you a Weekend Warrior and Want to Learn How to Train for Summer Running Races and Other Athletic Adventures?

If so, join Emory Sports Medicine physician Amadeus Mason, MD for an online web chat on Tuesday, June 10 at noon. Dr. Mason will be available to answer your questions regarding running and other sports injuries such as

  • Prevention of injury
  • Stretching
  • Symptoms of certain athletic injuries
  • Risk factors for athletic/running injuries
  • Treatment for specific sports injuries
  • When to visit your sports medicine physician

If you are interested in learning more about preventing and treating sports and running injuries register for the live chat by visiting emoryhealthcare.org/mdchats!

About Dr. Mason

Amadeus Mason, MDDr. Mason is an assistant professor in the Orthopaedics and Family Medicine departments at Emory University. He is board certified in Sports Medicine with a special interest in track and field, running injuries and exercise testing. He has been trained in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, orthopedic stem cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. Dr. Mason is Team Physician for USA Track & Field, Tucker High School, and Georgia Tech Track and Field.

Dr. Mason is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the America Road Racing Medical Society, and the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine and Science Committee. He has been invited to be a resident physician at the US Olympic Training Center, a Sports Medicine consultant in his homeland of Jamaica and the Chief Medical Officer at multiple USA Track and Field international competitions. He is an annual speaker at the pre-race expo for PTRR, Publix marathon and Atlanta marathon commenting on a wide variety of topics related to athletics and running injuries.

Dr. Mason is an active member of the Atlanta running community. He attended Princeton University and was Captain of the track team. His other sports interests include soccer, college basketball and football, and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). A Decatur resident, he is married with three children

Related Links

Emory Sports Medicine
Runner’s chat with Dr. Mason 2013 transcript
More Runners’ Chat Questions Answered
Tennis Elbow and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Therapy – Is it Right for Me?

What is Tommy John Surgery and why are so Many MLB Baseball Players Getting it Now?

Elbow PainA number of major League baseball pitchers have recently had to undergo “Tommy John Surgery”, a procedure used to reconstruct a torn ulnar (medial) collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. An injury to the UCL in the elbow is typically caused by repetitive overhead throwing motions, such as pitching a baseball. Collegiate and professional athletes in several sports such as tennis, gymnastics, wrestling, softball, football and track&field have also undergone the procedure, but baseball pitchers are the most prevalent group.

The increased incidence of UCL injuries and tears in MLB pitchers is multifactorial, but is mostly related to the increased stress that these athletes place on the inner aspect of their elbow through pitching, in order to compete at the level of a professional player.

What are the Symptoms of Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) injuries?

  • “Pop” and pain in the inner elbow
  • Inability to throw, or decreased ability to throw a ball at the same velocity
  • Continuous pain on the inside of elbow
  • Instability, or feelings of looseness in the elbow
  • Numbness in the small finger and ring finger

If you have any of the above symptoms, it is important to be evaluated by a sports medicine physician right away to determine if you can prevent further damage to your UCL, or the cartilage in your elbow. Continuing to play can cause further damage to the elbow and eventually lead to the need for Tommy John Surgery.

What is Tommy John Surgery?

Tommy John Surgery is a surgical procedure where the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from another part of the body, or from a donor. An orthopaedic surgeon typically performs this procedure by drilling holes into the bones above and below the elbow where the UCL normally attaches. Typically, a graft from a tendon in the forearm is used to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament. An athlete is advised to enter into an intensive rehab program after the surgery and typically do not return to sports for 12 – 18 months after the surgery, in order to let the area fully heal.

How can you prevent your child from having to have Tommy John surgery in the future?

Unfortunately many high school baseball players complain of elbow problems, each year. Injuries and predispositions that result in Tommy John Surgery, typically start developing from an early age. A young baseball player who pitches too much before maturing has a much higher likelihood of getting hurt than one whose pitch count is closely monitored. In addition, a young player who has improper throwing mechanics, or shoulder strength and motion can also increase their chances of having elbow troubles.

UCL Injury Prevention Tips:

  • It is important for coaches and parents to understand the importance of “pitch counts” and limiting a student athlete’s use of his arm.
  • Also, we encourage parents to get a full sports medicine physical in the off season to evaluate if the student athlete has physical findings that might predispose them to injury.
  • There are exercises an athlete can do to strengthen the muscles in the right places so that the student athlete can avoid potential injury.
    • Hip, legs & core strengthening and flexibility are an important foundation for the throwing athlete.
    • Rotator cuff strengthening exercises are a mainstay, but the other muscles surrounding the shoulder blade (peri-scapular) can play a vital role in stabilizing the throwing shoulder.
    • Upper & lower extremity stretches are also critical to preventing injury.
  • Working with a pitching coach who understands proper throwing mechanics is essential. Video tape the athletes pitching to make sure he or she is not putting too much pressure on the elbow joint with poor mechanics.

It is important for parents, coaches and athletes to understand the risks of pushing too hard in an athletic arena. Tommy John Surgery is a serious procedure and it takes a long time to recover after the surgery. Although, through our surgical technique a high percentage of athletes are returning to their sports, there are still athletes who are not able to return. In addition, when an athlete has to have the procedure a second time, they have a drastically lower chance of returning to their sport. Practice caution so that you can have a long, successful athletic career.

Related Resources

Other blogs by Dr. Kyle Hammond

About Dr. Kyle Hammond
Dr. Kyle HammondDr. Hammond is an orthopaedic surgeon new to the Emory Orthopaedics faculty. He recently completed his fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While at the University of Pittsburgh he was the Associate Head Team Orthopaedic Surgeon for both the Duquesne University Football team and the University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball team. He also worked as a Team Physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the University of Pittsburgh athletics, Robert Morris College athletics, as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet.

Dr. Hammond sees patients at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, as well as Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta. Dr. Hammond has a special interest in the overhead/throwing athlete, ligament injuries to the knee, Tommy John surgery, joint preservation surgery, and is one of the few fellowship trained hip arthroscopists and concussion specialists in Georgia.

About Emory Ortho, Sports and Spine in Johns Creek and Duluth
Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and T. Scott Maughon see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350

Find Out How to Prevent, Diagnose & Treat Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprain

Did you know that more than 9 million Americans suffer an ankle sprain each year? Well, if you are one of these individuals or want to learn more about how to prevent an ankle sprain join us on Tuesday, May 27 for a live online chat on “Preventing, Diagnosing & Treating Ankle Sprains” with Emory Othopaedics, Sports & Spine physician Oluseun Olufade, MD. He will be available to answer questions related to a sprained ankle such as:

  • Can I prevent an ankle sprain?
  • What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
  • How do you diagnose an ankle sprain?
  • How do you treat an ankle sprain?
  • Why should I go to Emory for sports medicine care

Emory Orthopaedic, Sports & Spine physician Dr. Olufade is a dedicated non-surgical sports medicine specialist who can offer tips and suggestions to keep you healthy or get you back to health so you can get back to your normal active routine! Sign Up for the Chat Now!

What Should You Do When You Sprain Your Ankle?

Ankle SprainIt is estimated that 28,000 people injure their ankles every single day in the United States. This is mostly due to engaging in sports and is usually caused due to quick changes in direction, awkward landings from jumps, and stepping on another athlete’s foot.

If you have a suspected ankle sprain, you should see a doctor at the first opportunity to ensure proper diagnosis. Don’t try to just ‘walk off’ the injury and ignore it.

You can take an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to prevent the swelling from getting worse. Common NSAIDS include ibuprofen – such as Advil and Motrin, and naproxen – like Naprosyn. To manage pain immediately, take acetaminophen such as Tylenol. Just make sure to not do so on an empty stomach or exceed the recommended dosage.

After managing the pain, follow American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ recommended RICE method to treat the sprain early:

  1.  Rest - Rest your ankle and use crutches till walking is no longer painful without them.
  2. Ice - Apply an ice pack (or improvise with a pack of frozen peas) for 20-30 minutes at a time. You can ice your ankle 3-4 times for the first couple days or until the swelling goes down.
  3. Compression - Use an elastic compression wrap (ACE wraps work well) for the first 2-3 days. Don’t apply the wrap too tightly. Signs that it is too tight are numbness, tingling, pain or swelling below the bandage.
  4. Elevation - Lay on the couch, bed or in the recliner with pillows propping up your leg so your ankle is above the level of your heart. This helps to prevent excess swelling and bruises.

Most ankle sprains will heal on their own if treated properly and the patient completes the exercises prescribed by the physician or physical therapist. Surgery is usually only needed when there are severe tears in the ligament or if a bone is broken. Make an appointment with a sports medicine specialist to evaluate the degree of the ankle sprain and discuss treatment options.

Chat Online with Dr. Olufade About Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprain Q&A ChatIf you want to learn more about ankle sprains, join us on Tuesday, May 27 for a live online chat on “Preventing, Diagnosing & Treating Ankle Sprains” with Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine physician Oluseun Olufade, MD. He will be available to answer questions related to the ankle such as:

  • What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
  • How do you diagnose an ankle sprain?
  • How do you treat an ankle sprain?

Sign Up for the Chat

About Dr. Olufade
Dr. Oluseun OlufadeDr. Olufade is board certified in Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team. Dr Olufade is also the team physician for Emory University and Blessed Trinity High School.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports medicine injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in treatment of sports related concussions, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration. Dr. Olufade sees patients at our clinic at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Dr Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

About Emory Ortho, Sports and Spine in Johns Creek and Duluth
Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and T. Scott Maughon, MD see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350.

Emory Sports Medicine patient, Susie Hemphill: A Story of Recovery

Susie HemphillIn August 2008 I fell and hurt my ankle. Over the course of four years, I was treated by two different orthopaedic surgeons and was not able to participate in tennis or any other sports. This was devastating for me because I am an avid and accomplished tennis player. I was recruited out of high school in Illinois to play collegiate tennis at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But as a result of my ankle injury, I struggled to walk. I almost gave up hope that I would ever play again after two failed ankle surgeries. It was so hard to even perform daily tasks that I was contemplating applying for disability benefits. I was miserable with life because I was in so much pain on a daily basis.

According to Emory Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Sam Labib, I had a condition in my ankle where there was no cartilage between my foot and ankle bone. Dr. Labib gave me hope and said he could repair the damage by taking cartilage from my knee and putting it in my ankle. On, August 23, 2012, I had cartilage repair surgery at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta with Dr. Labib. It’s been a little over a year and a half since the surgery and I just keep getting better and better. Now, I am happy to say that I am pretty much as good as new and back to playing tennis as much as I want. I even recently made it to the City Finals playing Atlanta Lawn and Tennis Association AA1 Women’s Tennis. It is hard for me to believe that I was unable to do anything for almost four years.

Thanks to Dr. Labib, I am also now back to doing what I love professionally. I am a United States Professional Tennis Coach. It is so great to be back playing and coaching. I owe it all to Dr. Sam Labib. Dr. Labib is a caring, compassionate, exceptional, talented, driven doctor and I owe him the world for fixing me and giving my life back. I highly recommend Dr. Labib to any patient who has a similar condition.

About Dr. Sameh (Sam) Labib

Dr. Sameh Labib

Sam Labib, MD, is a sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeon and director of the foot and ankle service at Emory. Dr. Labib started practicing at Emory in 1999. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery.

He has lectured both nationally and internationally at many orthopedic meetings. His research has been published in several journals, including the JBJS, Arthroscopy, Foot and Ankle International and the American Journal of Orthopedics as well as numerous video presentations and book chapters. Dr. Labib is Board Certified in orthopedic surgery with additional subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine Surgery.

For the past 5 years, Dr. Labib has been nominated by his peers as one of “America’s Top Doctors” as tracked by CastleConnelly.com. Dr. Labib has a particular interest in problems and procedures of the knee, ankle, and foot. He is the head team physician for the athletic programs at Oglethorpe University and Spelman College, and an orthopaedic consultant to the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech and Emory University.

About Emory Sports Medicine
The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a leader in advanced treatments for patients with orthopedic and sports-related injuries. From surgical sports medicine expertise to innovative therapy and athletic injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine physicians and specialists provide the most comprehensive treatment for athletic injuries in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Constantly conducting research and developing new techniques, Emory sports medicine specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of sports injuries.
Our sports medicine patients range from professional athletes to those who enjoy active lifestyles and want the best possible outcomes and recovery from sports injuries. Our doctors are the sports medicine team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Tech and provide services for many additional professional, collegiate and recreational teams. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours. Call 404-778-7777 for an appointment.

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Tips to Avoid Turkey Day Injuries!

Thanksgiving The holidays are a time to celebrate, spend time with family and hopefully enjoy a few relaxing days off from work. For many weekend warriors, “relaxing” means pulling together a game of football or basketball in the back yard. While these games are often enjoyable, many end in injuries such as:

Although some injuries can not be prevented, others can be prevented with some simple warm up measures and consistent muscle training.

  • Build a cardiovascular base. You should maintain your cardio base by doing cardio exercise about 2 times a week year round. You can do running, biking, swimming, rowing, and walking to maintain this base training.
  • Maintain proper nutrition. A balanced diet is important year round but especially during the holidays when temptations are all around us. Adding extra weight, adds strain and stress to the body and this could lead to injury.
  • Core strength. Develop core strength by doing simple core exercises on a weekly basis such as planks or crunches. Poor core strength can lead to a variety of issues, including back pain.
  • Dress correctly. Use the appropriate footwear and protective gear for the sport you are playing. If you are playing football, put on a helmet to protect yourself from a concussion. This could save you from an emergency trip to the hospital before you can even eat your Thanksgiving turkey.

If you do end up with a sports related injury over the holidays, trust Emory Orthopaedics, Sports and Spine to get you back in the game quickly!

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and T. Scott Maughon, MD see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350.

Dr. Mathew PomboAbout Dr. Mathew Pombo, MD

Team Physician: Johns Creek High School, Chattahoochee High School, Berkmar High School

Dr. Pombo is an orthopaedic surgeon new to Emory but has made a big impact on the community in his first 5 years of practicing. Dr. Pombo completed medical school at the University of Georgia, residency at Wake Forest University, and fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Pombo sees patients in our Duluth clinic and performs surgery at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. He has a special interest in managing sports related concussions. He also specializes in ACL surgery, shoulder, knee, and hip arthroscopy, joint replacement, and sports medicine treatments for pediatric patients through adult patients.

Dr. Pombo is very engaged with the community and serves as team physician for several schools and youth sporting groups. Dr. Pombo attended Duluth High School and is proud to be back in his community giving back to young athletes.

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Injuries in the Young Athlete – How much is too much?

Student Athletes Injury PreventionChildren should be encouraged to participate in sports at a young age. Sports can teach children so many life lessons and helps children build their confidence. However, many parents are starting kids in sports at a young age in the hopes of developing their child into a scholarship athelte or a professional athlete. If a young athlete shows promise, many parents encourage their child to specialize in a specific sport and train year round from as young as 6 or 7 years old. This could be harmful because children’s bodies are still growing and developing. Young athletes are more prone to overuse injuries. It is estimated that close to half of the injuries in young athletes are related to overuse/overtraining. In addition to injuries, young athletes are also susceptible to overtraining syndrome and psychologic stress. Female athletes are particularly at risk for stress fractures and even delayed puberty.

With the exception of baseball pitch count research (which has studied how many pitches a young athlete could handle before injury), there is not conclusive research that indicates exactly how much is too much training for a young athlete. The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends that young athletes should limit their sports specific activities to five days a week with one complete rest day from all physical activity. In addition, the same council recommends young student athletes take at least 2 months off a year from a specific sport to properly rest and rebuild their bodies. Young athletes should avoid playing on two teams in the same season.

Cross-training is good for the body. Our bodies are not designed to do the same thing over and over again, especially as youth and adolescents. It is also beneficial to play more than one sport. It allows athletes to develop more skills, be involved with a different group of teammates and coaches, and keeps them interested. It is also important to properly train the body in the preseason. In preparing for a season or a race it is important to increase training time/mileage by no more than 10% per week.

Sports are an excellent activity for young children and can help them develop life lessons they will use forever. Parents should be encouraged to pay attention to the child and allow them to rest and relax and take time away from their sport to rebuild and rejuvenate. Pay attention to a child who complains of muscle and joint pains, fatigue, or shows signs of psychologic stress. Athletics are a great way for youth to stay healthy and build a strong character, but remember that the number one reason that young people give for playing sports is “to have fun.”

About Jeff Webb, MD
Jeffrey Webb, MDJeff Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools and other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Related Resources: