Orthopedic Research News

Caring for patients is the focus of our team of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine physicians, athletic trainers and therapists. We strive to return you to the demands of everyday life as quickly as possible, so you’re at your best for that Friday night game, pick-up tennis match or weekly walking group.

This focus extends to a robust research portfolio aimed at advancing best-practice and evidence-based techniques for preventing and treating injury and improving health outcomes. Some of these studies are highlighted below.

Research by our joint replacement, orthopedic and orthopedic trauma surgeons focuses on better understanding disease processes and developing treatments for the musculoskeletal system. At the center of this focus is examining novel techniques and strategies for knee, hip and shoulder function and musculoskeletal diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis.

In sports medicine, our team is leading a number of innovative research projects aimed at reducing the risk of overuse injury in high-demand youth athletes. This research incorporates using video analysis and new wearable technology and evaluating their potential for preventing ACL tears in soccer players and elbow injuries in youth baseball players. Our concussion research involving athletes at the high school, collegiate and professional levels is increasing.

We are also pioneering efforts using monitoring real-time clinical outcomes in patients undergoing treatment for sports medicine conditions. New clinical outcome scores are being electronically tracked to measure recovery response from treatments, both surgical and non-surgical. These efforts will help optimize treatment algorithms for patients with sports medicine injuries.

Our Herrick-Davis Motion Analysis Lab studies the dynamic function of human joints and mechanical factors associated with degenerative joint and soft-tissue diseases. We have ongoing studies focused on understanding how the treatment of rotator cuff tears affects long-term shoulder function, and the effects of surgical reconstruction techniques on knee and elbow function.

Recent Research

Henry Ford Health Researchers Look at Steroids as Pain Control Alternative to Opioids
Award-winning study investigated steroid pill to reduce pain after outpatient knee replacements. Henry Ford Health Orthopedic researchers looked at steroids as part of a multi-modal pain control regimen and an alternative to using opioids after outpatient knee replacement. The study won the 2022 American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Clinical Research Award.

Study Suggests Robotic Surgery May Lower Risk for Hip Replacement Complications
A Henry Ford Health study found that robotic-assisted surgery for hip replacement had lower rates of complications than the traditional method. The findings were published in The Journal of Arthroplasty and are believed to be the first from a large series of patients with several years of follow-up to evaluate post-surgical complications between the two surgical options. Patients should consult with their surgeon on the best surgical approach.

Henry Ford Study Shows Non-Opioids Provide Effective Pain Relief After Knee Surgery
Henry Ford Health Sports Medicine team research shows that non-opioids provide effective pain relief following ACL reconstruction surgery. The study was recently published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine and lead researcher Dr. Vasilios (Bill) Moutzouros says the study's data is "practice changing".

Returning to Golf After Total Knee Replacement
Good news for avid golfers who dream of getting back to their favorite pastime after having total knee replacement surgery. A Henry Ford study led by Dr. Joseph Tramer published by a peer-reviewed journal shows most joint replacement patients returned to the links with little pain and fewer physical limitations after the joint replacement. On average, these patients who enjoyed golf as a leisure pastime were able to reliably get back to the golf course in a few months and experience less pain from taking a golf swing. Total knee replacement can help alleviate some of the discomfort of swinging a golf club so that players don’t need to take as much pain medication. The study shows that most golfers returned to the links within five months and played as well as they did before.  

Should NFL Players Opt for Surgery after Shoulder Injury?
A Henry Ford Health retrospective study published in Arthroscopy, a peer-reviewed journal, found that NFL players who suffered shoulder dislocation injuries and opted to have surgery had longer playing careers than those who didn't. The players who didn't have surgery, however, returned to play faster. Researchers found no differences in performance and games played or started whether a player had surgery or not.

Researchers Say Prescribing Opioids for Pain Relief after Knee Surgery is Unnecessary
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Arthroscopy found that knee injury patients didn't need opioids following surgery to manage the pain. A novel multimodal pain management protocol developed at Henry Ford can bring about immediate pain relief for knee injury patients without using powerful opioids like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. Patients were given the option to ask for opioids if they felt as if their pain was not in control, and the study reported that none of the patients in the nonopioid cohort asked for opioids. The non-opioid approach has become the standard of care for managing pain after meniscus surgery for many surgeons at Henry Ford.

Henry Ford Study: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is Not Just an Office Workers’ Condition
A retrospective study by Orthopedic researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit finds that workers in the manufacturing and construction industries have higher incidence of the common hand, wrist injuries than office clerical workers who use computers all day. The retrospective study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reports that manual labor jobs that require lifting, gripping and forceful wrist motion contribute to higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Female Athletes in WNBA Don’t Return to Elite Performance for at Least 2 Years After ACL Surgery
Findings from a study by Henry Ford Sports Medicine shows that female athletes in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) required at least two years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and reconstructive surgery before returning to their top performance levels. In comparison, male athletes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) returned to their previous performance levels a year earlier following the same injury and surgery.

Henry Ford Study Finds Concussions Are a Risk for Young Athletes In All Sports – Not Just Football
Study from the Henry Ford Sports Medicine Research team shows that all high school athletes, not just football players, are at risk for concussions and may need longer recovery time for concussions than previously thought. The study confirms that most common sports for brain injuries were football, hockey and soccer.

Study: High School Athletes Require Longer Recovery after Concussion
As Michigan high school football players prepare for the start of practices in preparation for the 2020 season, a new study from Henry Ford’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery provides a new perspective on concussions and brain injuries. The study recently published in a nationally recognized peer-reviewed journal for orthopedic surgeons reveals that young athletes are sidelined for at least one month after suffering a concussion, longer for repeated ones.

Managing Pain After Sports Medicine Surgery
Henry Ford research shows patients can recover safely with non-opioid medicines. Study finds common sports procedures can be performed with little or no opioids for pain relief. With opioid addiction soaring in the U.S., the study provides good news that an opioid painkiller may not be needed after common sports injury procedures. A mix of no-addictive medicines may be safer and equally successful in managing pain after shoulder or knee surgery, according to Henry Ford doctors who tested a different regimen for treating post-surgical pain with a combination of non-opioid medications, including anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and nerve pain relievers.;

The Urinary Catheter and Joint Replacement Surgery
A new study by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has found that joint replacement surgery can be performed safely without patients needing a Foley urinary catheter, which for years has been part of the standard practice for this type of surgery. Researchers found that patients who underwent surgery without a catheter were at no increased risk of post-surgery complications than those who did have a catheter.

Return to Play After a Concussion is 19 Days
With NFL training camps under way for the 2019 season, a Henry Ford Hospital study on concussions found that the time players are sidelined has nearly tripled in the past 20 years. Sports medicine researchers at Henry Ford evaluated data from the 2012-2015 seasons and found that players who sustained a concussion returned to play on average 19 days later. That’s the equivalent of missing about 1 ½ games.

Space Travel and Your Joints
A novel Henry Ford Hospital study of mice aboard a Russian spaceflight may raise an intriguing question for the astronauts of tomorrow: Could traveling in space be bad for your joints? Researchers found early signs of cartilage breakdown in the mice, suggesting that the reduced biomechanical forces of spaceflight are at play on the musculoskeletal system.

Better Conditioning, Throwing Mechanics Key to Fewer Youth Pitching Elbow Injuries
Young baseball pitchers can reduce their risk for elbow injuries with better conditioning and throwing mechanics.

Once Waned from Use Years Ago, Mepivacaine Shows Promise for Knee Replacement Surgery
A numbing medicine largely abandoned decades ago for pain control during surgery could be making a comeback as an effective spinal anesthetic for today’s modern-day knee replacement.

Youth Pitchers: 5 Smart Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Injury
Steps can be taken by the baseball community and parents to prevent and reduce the risk of overuse injuries in youth pitchers.

Spring Training Alert: Core, Hip/Groin Injuries Prominent among Pitchers
The study, published in the February edition of the Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, found that core and hip/groin injuries in Major League Baseball pitchers account for 21 percent of all pitching injuries that required time on the disabled list.

Femoral Nerve Block in ACL Surgery May Cause Complications
A nerve injection commonly used for pain control during knee reconstruction surgery is associated with complications in high school and collegiate athletes.

Treatment Type Matters in Shoulder Injuries in NFL Players
Players in the National Football League who opted for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder are at less risk of re-injury once they return to play, compared to those who don’t have surgery.

2nd Tommy John Surgery Linked to Performance, Decline, Shortened Career
Major League Baseball pitchers who underwent a second Tommy John surgery saw their performance decline and their career shortened.

Throwing Fastballs May Be Linked to Tommy Johns Surgery in MLB Pitchers
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Major League Baseball pitchers who throw a high percentage of fastballs may be at increased risk for Tommy John surgery.

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