Tell Me Where It Hurts

Greenwich’s sports medicine doctors are on the cutting edge for local and national athletes



Photograph by Visko Hatfield

(page 1 of 3)

Cornerback Will Peterson is a mainstay and a primary starter with the New York Giants, so a lot was riding on the medical diagnosis of his back injury by team physician Dr. Russell Warren of Greenwich, one of the country’s most respected sports-medicine practitioners. On September 29, 2005, Dr. Warren issued a statement noting Peterson’s medical history, which included a two-year-old fracture and the possibility that the athlete would develop another from a stress reaction. After consulting with other doctors and with Peterson himself, Dr. Warren decided that this key player would be out of action from four to six weeks.

A few weeks later, the results were happier when Dr. Warren examined quarterback Eli Manning’s elbow and concluded, as the New York Daily News headlined it, “Phew! Just a sprain for Eli.”

More than ten million sports injuries are treated each year in the United States, which helps to explain the rapid rise of sports medicine as a specialization. Injury is almost a rite of passage in sports, and it will, at some point, affect 60 to 70 percent of all runners, half of all swimmers, and 80 to 90 percent of serious triathletes.

Sports injuries run the gamut from sprains, strains and tears to fractures and dislocations. Ankles and shoulders are vulnerable, but the most commonly injured joint is the knee, and problems with it send 5.5 million people to orthopedic surgeons each year in the U.S. Runner’s knee (pain close to the knee cap) and tendonitis are frequently encountered. Trauma from, say, a torqued or twisted knee when the foot is planted awry often results in anterior cruciate (ACL) injuries. As it’s described in The Jock Doc’s Body Repair Kit,

“When a 360-pound lineman by the name of ‘Train’ makes chicken bones out of a quarterback’s legs, yanking them as if to break away the wishbones, he often begets an ACL tear.”

Injuries are particularly common among younger athletes. During the average high school basketball season, two players on the team are likely to be injured, says a study by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). Thirty-five million children and young adults take part in sports programs, with 38 percent of all sports injuries occurring in children between the ages of six and seventeen. Most injuries are minor, but a few are life-threatening, such as the brain trauma sustained by eighteen-year-old New Jersey prep school student Kurt Socha in a football game last October. He died from his injuries two weeks later.

Dr. Paul Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon at the Greenwich-based Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS) who is also team physician for Greenwich High School, says 30 to 50 percent of youth sports injuries are caused by overuse, “because many programs or combinations of programs don’t allow time for the young athlete to rest.”

With so many excellent athletic programs, both school- and town-sponsored, Greenwich is fortunate to serve as a locus for some of the country’s best sports-oriented physicians. Five ONS practitioners were named among the top doctors in the state by Connecticut magazine last year.

Dr. Warren has been the Giants’ team physician for twenty years, but that’s just one of a long list of accomplishments. He is also surgeon-in-chief emeritus at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in Manhattan, a professor of orthopedics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and past president of both the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Shoulder and Elbow Society. It’s safe to say he knows a lot about shoulders, knees and elbows, their care and rehabilitation.

At a clinic run by HSS in Old Greenwich, Dr. Warren is on hand once a month to tend to orthopedic problems within the community. “It saves the trip into the city, and the parking is good,” he says with a laugh. “There’s a whole group of us who live in Greenwich and work at HSS. It’s a great town, with great schools — I’ve lived in Greenwich thirty years.”

Dr. Warren says that serious injuries on NFL playing fields are not that common. “The injury rates are less than they are at lower levels of the sport because of the people playing,” he explains. “The game screens out people who are partial to injuries. We examine 500 draft candidates in four days, and 95 percent of them are pretty clean.”

When players do get injured, Dr. Warren marvels at the technology available today that makes surgery less invasive. “The arthroscope came into general use in the 1970s, but the early ones were more of a diagnostic tool,” he says. “Now we can use fiber-optic tubes that enter through a small incision and allow us to look directly into joints and, with precision tools fitted, make repairs. It opens up an avenue for less invasive surgery. Procedures that once required two or three days in the hospital can now be done on an outpatient basis, though recovery times haven’t been significantly shortened.”

Such medical advances play a significant role in the treatment of bicipital tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon connecting bicep muscles with the shoulder joint, caused by repetitive, powerful overarm motions. Sound familiar? It’s frequently seen in baseball pitchers, who at the highest levels are patients of ONS orthopedic surgeon Dr. Seth Miller, a Greenwich resident who doubles as a medical consultant to the New York Mets.

“In baseball players, the majority of injuries are to the upper extremities, specifically in my area of specialty, the shoulder and elbow,” says Dr. Miller. He adds that advances in treating these delicate parts of the body have probably increased a pitcher’s longevity in the major leagues, despite the fact that today’s players throw much harder than their predecessors.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

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  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

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     @ Bloomingdale's

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  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

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  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
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