Non-surgical conditions we treat
The many sports injuries that make it into news reports usually are the extreme kind, and they can create the impression that surgery is the go-to treatment. This certainly is not the case, as non-surgical methods may be the best option for a particular injury.
Below, we have summarised the difference between surgical and non-surgical methods, and provided more detail around the latter methods.
Surgical vs Non-Surgical
The biggest difference between surgical and non-surgical sports injury treatments is that surgical methods are invasive, and non-surgical methods are not. Surgical methods may require large or small (keyhole) cuts as well as the use of plates, surgical screws, and other orthopaedic hardware. Some forms of surgery, such as arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery is often used for tendons and ligaments, is less invasive.
Non-surgical treatment methods do not involve surgery – there are no cuts, implants, sutures, or staples.
Examples of non-surgical methods of treating sports injuries include:
Cortisone injections – Cortisone injections are one of the most common non-surgical treatment options for conditions and injuries that range from muscle pain to rotator cuff tears. The steroid is usually combined with a local anaesthetic when injected into joints such as shoulders, elbows, or knees.
Cortisone reduces inflammation (swelling), which in turn reduces the pain you feel. Injections may cause a mild burning feeling in the affected area, and you may need to wait a few days before you experience the anti-inflammatory effects of the steroid. If you do experience discomfort in the injected area, you can manage it with an ice pack and paracetamol or another simple pain-relieving medication (analgesic). Cortisone injections work for approximately three months. You may experience their effects for longer if you also opt for a treatment such as physiotherapy.
Medication – Analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications are another non-surgical method of treating sports injury or the symptoms of an injury. You may be given a prescription for medication, or you may be advised to purchase over-the-counter medication.
Physiotherapy – Physiotherapy can treat some sports injuries and help reduce the pain associated with them. If you opt for physiotherapy, your physiotherapist, under your surgeon’s supervision, will create a unique rehabilitation plan based on your needs. Rehabilitation plans usually aim to reduce pain and increase strength in ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and to improve flexibility and range of motion.
Bracing/Casting – Rest is an important aspect of the healing process and using a brace or cast can help ensure the injured body part is allowed to rest. A brace or cast can be a non-surgical method of treating sports injuries such as sprains and fractures.