Being active and fit is a great way to help manage chronic illness, but sometimes athletes need help coping with a chronic illness in order to play their sport or exercise at the athletic level that they desire. The surgeons and physician assistants at Southern Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are dedicated to helping our patients continue to play the sports or participate in the athletic activities they love while still managing their chronic disease.

Chronic illnesses can cause symptoms that affect athletic performance, such as aches and pains, mobility issues, fatigue, and more. Our orthopedic team works with our patients to help them develop workout routines and techniques that work best with their chronic illness, as well as helping them adapt their diet to both their condition and their athletic goals. Some chronic diseases that athletes manage while continuing to play their sports include:

  • Crohn’s Disease: Many high-performance athletes live with Crohn’s disease while still having successful athletic careers. Left uncontrolled, Crohn’s disease can lead to nutrient deficiencies and cause health issues such as anemia and osteoporosis, so it is important to manage the disease so that optimal athletic performance can continue. High-intensity exercise can also cause an increase in symptoms, so working with a physician to determine the best level of activity is key.
  • Diabetes: Athletes who are diabetic face the challenge of managing their blood sugar levels over the course of training for and playing their sports. Because muscles need fuel during exertion, exercise essentially pushes sugar into the muscles, meaning that maintaining the right sugar levels is important. Depending on the sport, some competitions can last for hours, and determining the right timing and levels for insulin and food is critical to make sure athletic performance isn’t affected at any point during the competition.
  • Lupus: In patients who have lupus, the body’s overactive immune system attacks tissues and organs, resulting in symptoms including joint swelling and pain, which can affect athletic performance. Healthcare providers can work with athletes to determine triggers and recognize the signs of an impending flare up, and adapt their diet and exercise routines accordingly, as well as ways to avoid triggers whenever possible.

There are a number of other chronic illnesses that sports medicine physicians can help athletes manage in order to continue playing their sports, such as asthma, psoriatic arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and more. Despite these chronic illnesses, athletes can still continue to play their sports and work towards their athletic goals by partnering with their healthcare providers.

Managing chronic illness doesn’t just help athletes to continue in their athletic careers or maintain the level of physical activity that they enjoy. Because the mental and physical benefits of exercise are so great, helping athletes stay active while managing their chronic illness is imperative. Not only does it potentially help with management of illness symptoms, but the psychological benefits for athletes who may be suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of their illness are also evident. Our orthopedic team is dedicated to providing assistance to athletes managing chronic illnesses in Mount Pleasant and Charleston, call us today at (843) 936-0715 to schedule an appointment.