With sports medicine science on your side you can be back to your old self in no time.

Every athlete collects a panoply of problems—the old knee that flares up a couple of times a year, the shoulder that just doesn’t like straightening out any more, the plantar fasciitis that tells you that your warm up wasn’t warm enough. Too often, we resign ourselves to dealing with the discomfort, because the only true, long-term fix is either surgery or quitting our sport—neither of which seems like a good option. So our chronic aches and pains linger.

But today there are new, less invasive treatments for the kinds of chronic conditions that plague athletes. Here we look at the present and future of injury therapy to give you a starting point for a conversation with your doctor.

Patient, Heal Thy Mindset
According to data compiled by MedScape, the majority of physicians spend between 13-16 minutes with each patient—a number that’s dropped significantly in the last 50 years. Clearly we are now responsible for taking charge of our medical history. Long gone are the days where the guy in the white coat did all the deciding for you.

Now, thanks to the Internet, all the information and feedback in the world is available to us, and this democratization of medicine is actually a very good thing.

“Especially in sports medicine, everything isn’t black and white,” says Dr. Brian Wallace of the Joint Replacement Institute in Naples. “Presenting the patient with several options and letting them decide is better medicine. Some of them already know what they want done. That probably wasn’t the case 20 years ago.”

If the idea of taking the lead in your own care is foreign, Dr. Wallace suggests looking for good studies done about any procedure.

“There’s a lot of websites online that are reputable and made available to the public, especially the AOSSM [American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine] and the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery. I would try to find good studies done about [any procedures you’re considering]—evidence-based only—offering treatments that have been proven to have a benefit. And don’t be afraid to ask [your doctor] questions.

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