Everett Clinic Sports Medicine physician, Dr. Doug Pepple, was featured in the Everett Daily Herald's, "Sports medicine helps us recover from injuries, big or small."
Sports medicine docs aren't only for jocks.
“You don't have to be an athlete, just active,” said Dr. Doug Pepple, a sports medicine physician at the Everett Clinic and the team doctor for the Everett Silvertips.
About half of Pepple's patients are involved in organized sports. The rest are average Joes and Janes who get injured on the move.
“You're playing catch with your kid in the back yard and you overthrew the football, or renovating your bathroom and you overdid it,” Pepple said. “It could be playing a game of pickup basketball with your friends and they elbowed you in the head.”
Sports physicians can be any type of doctors — they're often general practitioners, pediatricians, orthopedists and physical therapists — who are also board-certified in the treatment and prevention of sports injuries.
“You'll be told more than ‘Rest, ice, compress, elevate,' ” Pepple said.
If you're a hiker with heel spurs or a marathoner-in-the-making, it might be time for a dose of sports medicine.
The first appointment starts with story time: “I was at Zumba class when I slipped and hit my ... ” And it ends with a treatment plan.
It's not always a one-stop shop.
The sports doc assesses the injury and goes from there. Minor ailments might only need in-office rehab or home exercises. Longer recoveries could involve a physical therapist, who works with your sports doc to develop a plan. Serious injuries can warrant a cast or in rare cases surgery.
More often than not, you're signing up for multiple visits. You probably knew that already, and that might be why you shy away from the doctor in general. The tendency is to let time heal all wounds: Stay off of it for a week or two. Apply an ice pack. Watch some Netflix.
But that approach can go against how the body heals.
“The general principle tends to be, if you get a problem treated in its early stages, it's more likely to recover faster, and more likely to recover without setbacks in the journey,” Pepple said. “It's going to get you back into play faster, back to what you like to do faster.”
An example: It's common for people to sit on their low back problems. But hobbling from the couch to the bed with a heating pad doesn't always lead to a full recovery. And even if it does, it won't reduce yor risk of future injury.
Serious back problems are less common in adolescents, but active kids should watch out for what Pepple calls “double stress.” That happens by trying to make athletic gains while your body is still growing. Weightlifting, for example, can damage a teenager's growth plates or pull tendons away from the bone.
“It's much better to focus on endurance and skill — control of your movements — but not necessarily power,” Pepple said.
Teens should begin their training about six weeks before the season starts. Easing into physical activity decreases the chance of injury.
The same goes for adults diving into a new work-out regimen.
“We're all optimists,” Pepple said. “Start out with a lot less than you think you can do, just to make sure that your body can handle that. Then take it slowly up from there.”
No matter the activity, protect yourself. You're asking for injury by not sporting the right equipment. Helmets are a must for anything that “increases your velocity more than the human body was made to move,” Pepple said. That means skiing, skateboarding, biking and BASE jumping.
Make sure your gear fits and is up to date. Anything broken down should be replaced. Runners should swap their shoes out after 300 to 500 miles, or every six months — whichever comes first.
Do your best to stay in one piece. But if you break, a sports doc will put you together again.