A sports injury to your bones and muscles can happen suddenly. Perhaps you’ve twisted an ankle or foot, sprained a shoulder or wrenched your knee.
It’s easy to rush to an urgent care clinic or hospital emergency room for quick treatment. But, seeking the care of a Novant Health orthopedist might be a better solution to returning to the activities you enjoy.
“I think it's ingrained in us that ‘I've got an injury, I need to go to the emergency room,’” said Dr. Marcus Cook, an orthopedic surgeon at Novant Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, and team physician for the NBA Charlotte Hornets. “If you can't walk or stand on it, or something's at an angle that doesn't look right, you probably should go to an urgent care clinic. But, things that can wait, a sprained ankle or similar injury, you're better served going to see an orthopedist. We can offer you the definitive treatment. You're seeing the people who can direct management for your injury.”
Novant Health’s Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute has dozens of clinics. Here’s why you should consider one if you’ve suffered a sports injury or if you’re battling chronic joint pain:
• Same-day access for acute injuries.
Patients can use book a same-day appointment through MyChart, which also allows them to check their medical records and communicate directly with their doctor. Clinics offer walk-in hours if you don’t have an appointment. If it’s late in the day or the schedule is full, a clinic will do all it can to accommodate you on the same day, if possible.
“It's not like you have to wait two weeks to come see us,” Cook said. “You can go online, see where there's available time and book yourself an appointment.” Here is a link where you can schedule an appointment for orthopedic care.
• An orthopedist can care for you during every step from diagnosis to surgery, if required.
“Most injuries we can treat in our office,” Cook said. “You're seeing the doctor who is going to take care of you from beginning to end, versus an emergency medicine doctor or someone who is qualified in many fields. We specialize in orthopedic injuries.”
Find the sports medicine care you need
Cook said he sometimes has a patient who is surprised to learn he’ll be the one performing their surgery, the same person who the patient saw when they arrived with the injury.
“I think that's a pleasant surprise,” he said. “You also develop a good relationship with your doctor, as we do with our patients. You feel a lot more confident when you go from beginning to end that way.”
• On-site X-rays with immediate interpretation, and on-site equipment if you need splinting, casting or a brace
“We can X-ray patients in our office and we have myriad types of braces and splints,” Cook said. “We can order diagnostic testing, such as an MRI or CT scan.”
Being able to X-ray an injury at the clinic allows the orthopedist to diagnose the patient faster, and move along the patient’s care in a timely manner. The patient also saves time by not having to go to a different location to be fitted for a splint, crutches, casts, walkers, etc.
People are still getting injured
Cook said COVID-19 has slightly skewed the orthopedic injuries he’s seen. He’s seeing as many injuries as he usually does, but the absence of high school football and limited college football during the fall resulted in fewer football injuries. (Note: Public high school football begins in North Carolina in January).
“We're seeing a lot more injuries from the recreational athlete population getting out and trying to get fit,” Cook said. “I've seen a lot of knee injuries from people getting out and walking, and doing more than they've done in a while. But, I think it's good to see people working out.”