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7 Sports Medicine questions, answered

SSM Health Sports Medicine physician Emily Porter, MD, answers reader-submitted questions about mobility, at-home treatments, knowing when to see a specialist, and more.

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SSM Health Sports Medicine Q+A June 2023

From getting in shape to mysterious aches and pains, SSM Health answers your sports medicine questions.

Photo by Kraken Images

Table of Contents

You asked, SSM Health answered. Here are the sports medicine questions readers submitted — and answers by SSM Health Sports Medicine Physician Emily Porter, MD, who discusses mobility, getting in shape after surgery, mysterious aches and pains + more.

How do I get in shape after surgery?

First, check with your surgeon to make sure you are cleared for exercise. If you get the OK from your doctor, start adding light cardiovascular, weight training, and flexibility workouts to your weekly routine.

If it’s been awhile since you exercised regularly, always start slow and work up to longer sessions (working with a personal trainer at your local gym isn’t a bad idea, either).

I just turned 50, and want to remain active as long as possible. I already strength train and walk/jog for cardio — what else should I do?

You’re off to a great start! Consider adding in one to two sessions of yoga or Pilates weekly to help with flexibility, balance, and core strength.

How can I prevent my quadsfrom “twitching” at night?

The two most common causes of muscle twitching are dehydration and low electrolytes. Drink plenty of water (divide your weight in pounds by two, then aim for that many ounces of water per day), and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Stretching before bedtime may also help.

I fell on ice a few months ago and still have left leg pain that feels achy and heavy. Should I see a physical therapist?

Sorry to hear about your fall! If it’s been a few months and it’s still painful, I recommend scheduling an appointment with a sports medicine doctor for evaluation and specific suggestions for treatment.

I have trochanter bursitis on both hips. What should I do?

Trochanteric bursitis is highly associated with weakness in the hip stabilizers, especially a muscle called gluteus medius. Strengthen with a simple exercise called a “glute set.” Squeeze your gluteal (buttock) muscles for 20-30 seconds, then relax, and repeat several times per day.

To advance your strengthening, move into hip bridges, clamshells, and single leg balance exercise (look for instructions on YouTube).

What are the best at-home treatments for trigger finger?

Trigger finger occurs when a finger’s flexor tendon becomes swollen and “stuck” on other soft tissue in the palm of the hand. Usually, there is a palpable nodule in the palm.

You can try to reduce this swelling by icing the nodule several times per day, and a topical anti-inflammatory can also be applied up to four times a day. If you’re still in pain, you can ask your doctor for a referral to see a Sports Medicine or Hand/Upper Extremity specialist to discuss a potential cortisone injection.

I think I strained a lower back muscle, and feel sharp pain when I twist a certain way – help!

Muscle strains typically respond well to three treatments:

  • Activity modification: Avoid any activities that elevate your pain to anything over a four out of 10.
  • Ice and heat: Ice 20 minutes a a time, several times a day. After a few days, change to heat for 20 minutes, several times a day.
  • Over-the-counter medications: Most people are safe to use ibuprofen (400 mg) or Tylenol (650 mg), three to four times a day. Ask your doctor if you’re not sure.

If your pain persists beyond a week or two with no improvement, consider scheduling an appointment with a Sports Medicine doctor.*

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