Understanding endurance athletes
While some of us are reaching for the snooze button, long distance runners are passing the 5-mile mark on their morning run. Endurance athletes have a unique mindset. Who better to understand and support the tenacity and persistence of their fitness goals than another endurance athlete? In addition to being an avid runner, Dr. Scofield is a Nordic skier and an ironman triathlete, so he understands what the injured athlete is going through.
“My practice is informed by my own commitment to an athletic life,” he explains. “I love helping patients at every level of ability—from the professional athlete to the 70-year-old recreational runner—to achieve their goals.”
Insights for Runners from Dr. Kirk Scofield:
Education and early career “at the edge of the world”
After medical school at the University of Washington in Seattle and a family medicine residency in Colorado, Dr. Scofield practiced in Nome, Alaska and taught at a medical residency program in Anchorage before completing a fellowship in sports medicine at the U of M and joining Summit. “I am an adventurer,” he grins. “It was great fun to have the experience of practicing medicine 500 miles from anywhere, at the edge of the world.”
Sports medicine training brings a wealth of benefits for patients
He explains that sports medicine is a specialty distinct and complementary to orthopedic surgery. “Sports medicine takes a more global perspective than surgical specialties,” he says. “My training encompasses movement analysis, body mechanics, concussion management, nutrition, and cardiovascular issues related to athletes. I am also trained to cover races and sports teams. My focus is on getting patients back to their highest level of performance. You could say that my practice combines the joint awareness of an orthopedist, a physical therapist’s attention to the function of the entire body and the knowledge of how various sports stress the body in unique ways causing characteristic injuries for that sport.”
“Sports medicine is really all about exercise and movement,” Dr. Scofield continues. “Some of my patients are high level athletes and some are people who simply want to increase their level of activity safely; I enjoy working with the entire spectrum. Because I take care of a lot of endurance athletes, I also specialize in chronic overuse injuries, like tendonopathies, that runners tend to get.”
A practice centered around the unique needs of the individual
“When patients come in, I always ask what they do for exercise. If they are athletes, I want to know what kind of athlete they are. If they play hockey, I want to know about position they play, and for what level of team. With runners, we discuss their race goals and their mileage. I focus on what they do that brought them to me, and what their goals are. If a runner keeps getting stress fractures, we don’t just treat the fracture—we look for the underlying problem.”
The population of the Twin Cities is nationally recognized for its fit, athletic lifestyle. “I think it’s fantastic that people here are so active,” says Dr. Scofield. “At Summit, we are serious about the health of our community. By partnering with running organizations to provide medical care at local races, we hope to make a real difference keeping people injury free and safe when they race.”
Technologically-advanced care for chronic tendon issues: Ultrasound & Tenex
Tendinopathy, or chronic tendon pain, is caused when a tendon develops painful scar tissue in response to an acute or overuse injury. In the past when pain didn’t resolve with conservative treatment, the only option was an invasive surgical procedure to scrape out the scar tissue on the tendon. Tenex technology offers a minimally invasive alternative for removing painful tendon tissue.
“Today, we are using ultrasound for more than just visualizing tissue and placing needles for injection; we are actually using ultrasound-powered tools to cut, debride, and remove scar tissue in the tendon under visual ultrasound guidance,” explains Dr. Scofield. “Although there is still a role for surgery in some cases of tendinopathy, these new ultrasound-based procedures are minimally invasive and can be done without surgically opening up the joint in an operating room.” Tenex technology is a minimally invasive new treatment developed to treat chronic tendon pain. “Initial studies are very positive for Tenex,” Dr. Scofield shared, “with one showing a 94 percent resolution of tissue damage and a 100 percent patient satisfaction rate. Subjects remained pain-free even at three years’ follow-up.”
Ask Dr. Kirk Scofield – Tendon and Tenex series:
Specializing in Orthobiologics
Dr. Scofield has done extensive study around the use of regenerative medicine as an alternative to traditional treatments for a host of joint conditions and issues in the soft tissue, like tendons. Regenerative medicine therapies seek to use concentrated platelet and stem cell injections to decrease pain and improve function, supporting the body’s ability to heal itself.
Types of orthobiologic therapies:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) Platelet-rich plasma is obtained by drawing the patient’s own blood and then making a PRP preparation that concentrates the platelets. The concentrated solution is then precisely injected back into the injured area using guided imagery.
- Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) Concentrated bone marrow contains adult stem cells and a host of other regenerative properties. It can be used in guided regenerative injections. The marrow is extracted from the patient’s pelvic bone and concentrated to isolate stem cells and growth factors. This bone marrow aspirate concentrate is then injected into the injured area using guided imagery.
Orthobiologics videos featuring Dr. Scofield:
Seattle Pacific University — Seattle, WA
University of Washington School of Medicine — Seattle, WA
North Colorado Medical Center — Greeley, CO
Primary Care Sports Medicine
University of Minnesota — Minneapolis, MN
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)
- Wilderness Medical Society (WMS)
- Musculoskeletal Ultrasound — Alliance for Physician Certification and Advancement
Team Medical Coverage
- Team Physician, Concordia St. Paul — St. Paul, MN
- Team Physician, Park High School — Cottage Grove, MN
- Former team physician, Bethel University, University of Minnesota, Eastview High School, Minnesota Swarm Lacrosse Team
- Medical Director, Red White and Boom Half Marathon — St. Paul, Minnesota
- Former Medical Director, Big Wild Life Runs, Marathon and Half Marathon — Anchorage, Alaska
- Medical Provider, US Olympic Trials Marathon, Houston Marathon, Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Ironman Wisconsin
Dr. Scofield enjoys participating in triathlons, Nordic skiing, Ironman competitions, the Boston Marathon, and the Birkie. He also enjoys mountain biking, trail running, and hiking.
- Musculoskeletal Ultrasound
- Tendinopathy (Chronic Tendon Pain)
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“Bone Health in Endurance Athletes: Runners, Cyclists and Swimmers,” Current Sports Medicine Reports, November 2012