The District of Columbia is one of the top five most physically active regions in the United States according to a January 2020 report released by the Centers for Disease Control. While the health benefits of physical activity are abundant, they come with an increased risk of developing injuries. Rajeev Pandarinath, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician at The GW Medical Faculty Associates, treats all kinds of patients from weekend warriors, college athletes, to even members of Congress.
For Pandarinath, who is also an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the cornerstone of his practice is helping people to return to playing sports and being active again with their families and hobbies. He offered insight into his experiences and to the common injuries he treats.
Q: Tell us about your experiences being a team physician.
Pandarinath: I was the senior team physician at GW Athletics for seven years. I’m currently the head team physician for the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Athletics. Taking care of athletes at the university level is extremely rewarding. I enjoy seeing the true passion that these athletes have for their sports, including their desire to play and compete at a high level.
Q: How can athletes take steps to help reduce the risk of injury?
Pandarinath: Although many injuries can happen at random, there are several things that athletes can do to help prevent injury. Adequate nutrition, proper hydration, and having a pre- and post-activity routine are important in avoiding injury. Adequate nutrition ensures that the body can handle the stress-induced from heavy exercises and repetitive loading, and helps avoid injuries such as stress fractures. Proper hydration ensures that the muscle cells in the body are getting oxygen and nutrients in the blood, and helps to avoid cramping and tearing of muscles. Lastly, having a proper warmup and cool-down routine helps prepare the body for exercise.
Q: For athletes and non-athletes, what common conditions or injuries do you see in your practice? How can patients reduce their risk? What are tell-tale signs that they should make an appointment for common injuries?
Pandarinath: Many aches and pains after working out are a result of the body’s normal reaction to exercise. For symptoms such as muscle soreness or mild pain, it’s often helpful to rest the affected extremity, apply ice packs, and even take anti-inflammatory medications for a few days as long as they are medically safe for you. If pain is moderate to severe, or not responding to these treatments, it may be necessary to see an orthopedic surgeon. If you notice any significant swelling of a joint or have difficulty walking normally, it may be better to come in sooner. It’s often difficult for patients to know how serious their condition may be, and we offer urgent and walk-in visits at GW Orthopaedics so that patients can get advice quickly and early on in their recovery.
Dr. Pandarinath is currently accepting new patients and he is ready to see you virtually or in-person for your sports injuries. Don’t delay care, call GW Orthopaedics at (202) 741-3418 or schedule an appointment online.