Sports Medicine FAQs

runner with sports injury

Learn More About Common Orthopedic Injuries and Treatments

When your knee hurts, you’ve twisted your ankle, or you’re experiencing unexplained soreness, should you rest or seek care from a general practitioner or a medical specialist, or simply rest the affected area? The specialists at Alexander Orthopaedics can help you determine the care you need to recover from sports-related, repetitive-use, or everyday injuries. 

Here are some common questions that we hear from our patients:

Physical Therapy

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a type of care that aims to ease pain and restore functional movement (which can include standing, walking, running, or more specialized athletic movements) after injury or surgery. Physical therapists (PTs) can help you regain function and movement through prescribed exercises as well as hands-on care. PTs at Alexander Orthopaedics are specialists in various sports medicine and strength-building modalities, and some can even offer in-home visits during your recovery. 

How much does physical therapy cost? 

In the U.S., physical therapy can range in cost from $30-$400 per session. However, depending on your insurance coverage, you may only need to pay $20-$60 in out-of-pocket costs for each session. Check with your insurance agent to find out the details of your coverage. 

Does medicare cover physical therapy? 

Yes, medicare Part B will cover outpatient physical therapy when it is prescribed by your doctor (or nurse practitioner). In order for your medicare insurance to cover your sessions, you will first need to meet your medicare deductible for the year. You will still be responsible for paying 20% of the cost, while medicare insurance covers the rest. Be sure to check for the latest information on coverage and deductible thresholds.


What does a torn meniscus look like? 

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee that provides structural integrity to the joint . When this cartilaginous tissue is torn,  you may hear a popping sound and feel pain inside or outside the knee. You will also notice the area swelling, but it may take a day or more for the swelling to become visible. While sometimes a torn meniscus can be treated without surgery with the aid of rest and physical therapy, if you are unable to fully extend or bend the leg, you may need surgery to fully recover. 

How should I sleep after meniscus surgery? 

After meniscus surgery, you should sleep with your knee raised, but not bent. You can find a comfortable and safe position by lying on your back and placing a pillow under your foot and leg, creating a supported, slightly upright angle for the knee without bending it.

What is the fastest way to recover from meniscus surgery? 

After any surgery, it is important to rest as much as possible while you recover. After meniscus surgery, employ the R.I.C.E. method: rest, ice, compress, and elevate. 

  • Rest, and definitely avoid the activity that caused the injury until you are fully recovered. 
  • For the first several days after your surgery, you can apply ice for 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling.
  • Wear a brace or bandage to provide compression and stabilize the knee, but make sure not to cut off blood flow with a too-tight bandage.
  • Keep the knee elevated as much as possible while you are resting by placing a pillow under the foot and lower leg. Keep the knee supported and comfortable.

In addition to the R.I.C.E. method, be sure to attend follow-up appointments with your doctors and physical therapists. Your PT will give you strengthening exercises to practice as you recover. Be sure to follow the advice of your healthcare professionals, and consistently practice the exercises your PT prescribes. Finally, start slowly as you return to regular activities and athletic activities. To avoid re injury, you may benefit from wearing a knee brace when you play sports in the future.

If you have ongoing discomfort, limited mobility, or severe pain, it’s important to see your orthopedist. 


What is patellar tendonitis? 

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the tissue connecting the bottom of the kneecap to the tibia becomes inflamed or irritated. Symptoms include a dull ache at the top of the shinbone, stiffness in the knee, and worsening pain with specific movements like walking or squatting. Without treatment, patellar tendonitis can lead to a tendon tear. 

How do you treat patellar tendonitis? 

Overuse can often cause this injury, so the first step in treatment is to rest and employ the other steps in the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compress, elevate).

Before taking other steps, be sure to avoid the activities that cause the pain. If the symptoms do not improve with rest, or if the condition worsens, it’s time to seek physical therapy. If your injury includes a tear, you may require surgery to completely heal

How long does patellar tendonitis take to heal? 

For a milder case of patellar tendonitis, it may take just a few weeks of rest/RICE to feel better, but in more serious cases, your recovery could take longer. If surgery is required, complete recovery could take up to six months. If you have ongoing discomfort, limited mobility, or severe pain, it’s important to see your orthopedist. 


How long does ACL surgery take? 

ACL surgery usually takes less than two hours.

What activities should I avoid after ACL surgery?

Many activities that work the quadriceps should be avoided after ACL surgery, including swimming and running. Stationary cycling or lightweight leg presses may work for you to strengthen the quadriceps without stretching the ACL. Talk with your PT about specific exercises that are safe for you during your recovery.

How should I sleep after ACL surgery?

After ACL surgery, you can sleep on your back or side. Be sure to keep the knee straight – do not put a pillow or anything else under the knee that will elevate or bend the leg. 

When can I start walking after ACL surgery?

Most patients can walk without crutches or a brace two to three weeks after surgery. Physical therapy will typically begin two weeks after your surgery, at which point your PT will help you begin to test the weight-bearing capacity of your leg. 

Rotator Cuff

How do I relieve rotator cuff pain at night?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep the upper arm bone within the shoulder socket. People suffering from rotator cuff pain often experience a dull ache in the shoulder that gets worse at night. 

To treat rotator cuff pain at night, try applying a heating pad for 20 minutes to the affected area as you prepare for bed. You can also try taking an over-the-counter pain medication. Finally, try to sleep on your back with your arms at your sides. Sleeping with your arms over your head can increase the pain over time by causing further irritation to the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. 

If you have ongoing discomfort, limited mobility, or severe pain, it’s important to see your orthopedist. 

Do I need rotator cuff surgery?

Many people who experience rotator cuff pain or tears do not need surgery. Instead, interventions like rest and physical therapy can effectively treat many rotator cuff injuries. If you’re experiencing rotator cuff pain and you’re unsure if you need surgery, make an appointment with a specialist at Alexander Orthopaedics to find out the best path to your recovery.

How long after rotator cuff surgery can I drive?

Generally, patients should avoid driving for six to twelve weeks after rotator cuff surgery. It is not safe to drive while wearing a sling.


How long does hip replacement surgery take?

Hip replacement surgery generally takes two hours to complete.

What should I avoid doing after a hip replacement?

After hip replacement surgery, some common movements should be avoided:

  • Don’t bend at the waist more than 90 degrees.
  • Don’t lift your knees past your hips.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Don’t rotate your feet too far inward or outward. Try to keep your toes and feet pointing the same direction as you heal.
  • Don’t drive until cleared by your doctor. 

You should get up and move around in the days after your surgery, as instructed by your doctor. Adding safe movements into your post-op routine will help you avoid blood clots and encourage healing.

How long after hip replacement can I tie my shoes?

Generally, you will want to avoid bending to tie your shoes for six to eight weeks after hip replacement surgery.

Where can I get orthopedic care?

Finding the safest, quickest road to recovery after an injury is a priority for everyone, athletes and non-athletes alike. Finding a treatment center where you can receive every kind of care – from simple consultations, to personalized physical therapy, to surgery – will help ease your journey back to health and wellness. The care team at Alexander Orthopaedic Associates is that treatment center and we’re proud to serve all residents of the Tampa Bay area. 

Start your recovery on the right foot Schedule an Appointment with an orthopedic specialist at Alexander Orthopaedics right away.