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Health Talk - David Lopez, M.D.

Health Talk - David Lopez, M.D.

David Lopez, M.D.
Orthopaedic and Sports
Medicine Specialist

200 White Road Suite 101
Little Silver, NJ
(732) 888-2100

Dr. Lopez, now that there are more active adults in the 30+ age group, and sports has taken on a whole new dimension with children, tweens and teens competing at higher levels "sports medicine" has become an everyday term. Could you take a few moments to discuss "sports medicine" and how it differs from orthopedics?

The term "sports medicine" has been around for decades. It refers to the prevention and treatment of injury related to athletic activities. The disciplines involved range from sports  psychology, to exercise physiology, to medical and surgical specialties. Within the field of orthopedic surgery, sports medicine is also a sub-specialty. It focuses on the treatment of injuries related to athletic participation. These injuries run the spectrum from concussions, to ligament injuries, to stress fractures. The treatments involved are both nonsurgical and surgical. Orthopedics also includes other subspecialties that focus on various treatment areas including pediatrics, oncology, trauma, hand, joint replacement, spine, foot and ankle. Sports medicine will cover injuries from most of these other treatment areas, but athletic participation is the common thread. Patients from the age groups above will present with different needs depending on their level of sports involvement. Younger patients often benefit from more therapeutic approaches as their healing capacity is stronger. On the other hand, older athletes may have more degenerative problems, which will not improve without surgery.

Can you share with us the more common issues for adult patients, and for child and adolescent patients, respectively, that you are typically seeing these days?

As it relates to sports medicine, adults and children often present with different injuries. However, the common underlying factor is overuse. Today, adult patients try to maintain a higher level of activity and function. This trend is fueled by a competitive sports culture as well as baby boomers trying to have a certain quality of life as they age. These things combined lead to the common overuse injuries in active adults: rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder, wearing out of weight-bearing joints in the lower extremities, tendonitis in the upper extremities. Also, young patients are exposed to a competitive sports culture and train to compete for college scholarships and positions on professional sports teams. For those reasons, children often play the same sport all year round or multiple sports during the same season. Children, due to their unique growth stage and to participating in high demand sports, are prone to other types of overuse injuries. These include growth plate injuries, ligament injuries of the knee and shoulder, dislocations in the upper and lower extremities.

One area that we touched on during our discussion is minimally invasive surgery. Can you describe what areas this applies to and how it plays into success rate, recovery time, etc.?

Minimally invasive orthopedic surgery refers to procedures done with limited incision exposure or limited treatment of surrounding tissues to accomplish the same goals. In the realm of sports medicine, many procedures lend themselves to this philosophy. Most procedures utilize an arthroscope to minimize a skin incision. This includes procedures such as meniscus surgery, ligament surgery about the knee, and ligament and rotator cuff surgery about the shoulder. In regard to joint replacement, both knee and hip replacements are being done with minimally invasive approaches, such as the direct anterior hip replacement. The minimally invasive procedures can allow faster recovery and less pain while maintaining the results of more traditional procedures.

Over the years, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been highly publicized as affecting people who work on computers and smart phones in office settings. Can you tell our readers what CTS is and how surgery can play a role in treatment?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve at the wrist. Repetitive use of the hand contributes to this. The median nerve has the important function of providing  sensation to three digits of the hand as well as grasping strength. Treatment ranges from oral anti-inflammatory, to steroid injections, to surgery. Surgery may involve an open approach ith an incision in the palm, or an endoscopic approach with an incision in the wrist, which may allow for a faster return to pre-injury activities.

Dr. David Lopez is a New Jersey native with an office in Little Silver. He got his undergraduate degree at Cornell University, and then attended the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey (UMDNJ), before completing orthopedic surgery training through Seton Hall's School of Health and Medical Sciences at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson. He also trained in sports medicine at the Arizona Institute for Bone and Joint Disorders in Phoenix. Dr. Lopez treats conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including sports-related injuries and minimally invasive joint replacement options.

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