A former University of Pennsylvania baseball player, he brought his passion for athletics into the medical realm by completing a Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at The University of Colorado. Being Board Certified in both Family and Sports Medicine is what gives his practice the traditional feel of a family doctor with the added advantage of sports medicine expertise and advanced medical technologies.
An accomplished lecturer and writer, Dr. Sweeney shares his knowledge at medical conferences across the country. He is team physician for several local sports teams and local area high schools. Dr. Sweeney assists many local athletes with injury recovery and prevention. He also is a clinical instructor at The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. We were fortunate enough to take a few minutes of Dr. Sweeney's time to ask him about common sports injuries and their treatment.
Dr. Sweeney, what is the most common sports injury you see in your clinic?
Dr. Sweeney: We see a lot of different sports injuries, largely based on our training background. My partner and I were originally trained in family medicine but we both have done non-operative fellowships in Sports Medicine. We see a lot of sprains and strains, a lot of knee pain, low back pain, rotator cuff injuries and we also see a fair number of concussions.
Doctor, are there any commonly held beliefs involving these types of injuries that may be doing people a disservice?
Dr. Sweeney: With concussions, for example, a lot of people believe that you have to have a loss of consciousness to have sustained a concussion. That's not the case. The other thing is with children, because of their open growth plates, parents don't often realize that this is a concern and something we need to take into consideration when we are doing our evaluation.
Are there situations you come across where your patients are unknowingly contributing to their condition?
Dr. Sweeney: If we go back to your first question which is some of the more common sports injuries we see, overuse injuries are actually very common. A lot of times it's an issue where the athlete or individual is doing something too frequent or too intense or the duration is not appropriate. They may be unknowingly contributing to an overuse injury by doing the activity too frequently, too intense or too long.
Some of our endurance athletes, for instance, we find that sometimes they try to push through the pain when in fact they should be limiting their activities to minimize further injury. A lot of times with overuse injuries they will reach that tipping point where it becomes an issue that really sidelines them.
Is it possible to treat an injury and still stay active?
Dr. Sweeney: Yes, it is. The key is if they can engage in an activity that doesn't delay the recovery process or do further harm.
Doctor, is there anything people should do before seeking treatment for a sports injury?
Dr. Sweeney: I think doing research on the physician. It's important to find a physician that is properly trained and board certified in sports medicine.
I think the patient should also have a goal in terms of do they want to know what the diagnosis is, what the prognosis is and what the treatment strategy should be. So I think having goals is key but certainly finding someone who is well trained in their area of concern.
Doctor Sweeney, thanks for giving us some insight into sports injuries and their treatment.
Dr. Sweeney: It was my pleasure
Dr. Tod Sweeney, MD, Sports and Family Medicine of Colorado, Arvada, Colorado, can be contacted at his clinic in Arvada at 720-898-1110. The clinic website is sfmcolorado.com and the sports concussion center website is sportsccc.com
Kevin Nimmo is a writer and online media strategist. He interviews subject matter experts and educates his readers based on information provided by experts in their respective fields. He is also Executive Editor of The Western Medical Journal.