Ask a Sports Medicine Physician: Dr. Mark Peterson on Orthopedic Sports Medicine Treatment

Living in the mountains in Utah – or anywhere else in the country that provides outdoor recreation and adventure – is a blessing. The chance to play outside year-round is what brings many people to Salt Lake, Park City and the surrounding area. While the benefits of this mountain lifestyle far outweigh the negatives, there is one thing that all active Utahns are bound to experience: injury. 

We talked to our resident sports medicine doctor, Dr. Mark Peterson, about common injuries, what you should ask your orthopedic specialist, treatment options and overall expectations you should have for your sports medicine physician or orthopedic surgeon.

Treating Orthopedic Injuries

Dr. Mark Peterson - Sports Medicine Physician - Heiden Orthopedics
Dr. Mark Peterson

What are the most common injuries you see? 

Dr. Peterson: I see a lot of knee injuries, including ACL tearsmeniscus tearsswollen knees and osteoarthritis. The second most common injuries I treat are shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff tears, biceps tendinitis, shoulder impingement and scapular dysfunctions.  

How do you determine the course of treatment for individual patients?

Dr. Peterson: I do my best to follow evidence-based medicine and use conservative means as much as possible. If we are unable to improve injuries with conservative means, that is when surgery is likely required.

What are the best questions to ask your sports medicine doctor or orthopedic surgeon after diagnosis?

Dr. Peterson: Do I really need surgery or not? How can I best prepare to avoid surgery if possible?

What are the best questions to ask your sports medicine doctor or orthopedic surgeon before surgery?

Dr. Peterson: Again, do I really need surgery? If so, what is the expected recovery and what are the risks involved?

What are your views on pain medication and pain management (pre and post-surgery)?

Dr. Peterson: I try to use pain medications (narcotics) as little as possible. Anti-inflammatory medications – NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen – seem to do more and help patients get back to where they would like to be.

What can a patient expect during his or her initial appointment with you?

Dr. Peterson: To get to know me personally and my approach to injuries. I will ask them several questions to understand their injuries; this will be followed by a detailed physical examination. Often we use imaging modalities, like X-ray or ultrasound to assist us. I give my best medical opinion as a diagnosis and work with the patient to come up with the best plan of action. I am as conservative or aggressive in treatment as the patient desires.  

Salt Lake City - Heiden Orthopedics

Get to Know Dr. Mark Peterson

What made you want to become an orthopedic sports medicine doctor?

Dr. Peterson: The body has always fascinated me and I enjoy working with athletes to try to get them to their peak performance. I understand the mechanics of how the body functions and am able to recognize when parts of the body are not functioning correctly.

Where did you go to school, residency, etc.? What was the most memorable part of your educational experience?

Dr. Peterson: I went to the University of Utah and graduated from Brigham Young University. I then went on to Midwestern University – Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine for my medical degree and completed my residency in Family Medicine at the Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies at Michigan State University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I did my fellowship in Sports Medicine at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio-sciences in Bentonville, Arkansas.

As for the most memorable part of my education, seeing a diversity of cases and patients throughout my education and travels is very memorable. 

How long have you been a doctor? 

Dr. Peterson: Eight years.

What are your orthopedic specialties? What drew you to those specialties?

Dr. Peterson: My focus is on extremities, upper and lower. I have always respected the body’s unique way of healing itself, sometimes it just needs a push in the right direction.

What techniques and technologies do you use?

Dr. Peterson: I use ultrasound guided injections, regenerative medicine injections and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections

I have trained to do injections anywhere in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle and feet. Types of injections include cortisone injections, viscosupplementation injections (Synvisc and Euflexxa), trigger point injections (TPI) and other regenerative medicine injections.  

I also give platelet rich plasma injections, also known as PRP, to use the body’s natural healing power to try to heal my patients. This is one of the many options that I offer to my patient as part of their treatment pain. 

Would you consider your approach to orthopedics to be conservative, aggressive or otherwise?

Dr. Peterson: I have a very conservative approach to orthopedics. My goal is to try to keep my patients out of surgery through conservative care, including injections, therapy and medication. While some patients do need surgery sooner or later, I enjoy giving patients options.

What are the biggest challenges in your work?

Dr. Peterson: Often doctors claim to be “sports medicine” physicians but do not have the background or training in this field. I am Board Certified in Sports Medicine and have done additional training in my education to be able to treat athletes and non-athletes in the best possible way.

What difficulties have you encountered during your career?

Dr. Peterson: Working with insurance companies has always been the biggest obstacle. It is nice that now I take most insurances. Time constraints have always been hard as well, but I focus on taking enough time with each patient so they understand what is happening and what our plan is.

What do you love about living in Salt Lake City?

Dr. Peterson: I was born and raised in Holladay, Utah. My family is here and this is where I want to raise my children. Utah has such a variety of outside sports, many unique in their own way.

What are your favorite Utah activities and outdoor recreation?

Dr. Peterson: I enjoy 4-wheeling with my family in the summer and skiing in the winter. I am teaching my children to ski. I am originally from Utah and met my wife in high school. We have enjoyed traveling the country during my education, but we are glad to be back where we consider home.

Any last words?

Dr. Peterson: I have always enjoyed working in orthopedics. This is where my passion is and I continue to be constantly amazed at the body’s ability to try to repair itself. I am honored to work with such fine surgeons in our practice and feel that we as a group offer a full range of treatment options for any individual.  

If you have any questions for Dr. Peterson or would like to make an appointment, please contact us

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