Advertorial Dr Fong Shee Yan, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, from Island Orthopedic Consultants, takes time out to share with us why he chose to specialize in orthopedics and what drives him every day.
Can you tell us how you became an orthopedic surgeon, with special interest in spine surgery?
My specialization in Orthopedic surgery was largely because of my interest in human anatomy. I get huge personal satisfaction in setting broken bones and dislocated joints. This is coupled with immense gratitude received from patients upon seeing their bones and joints healing.
My subsequent drive to learn and do more led to challenging myself to master the treatment of diseases of the back bone and neck. I am proud to be one of the many Orthopedic surgeons who can competently perform surgeries on the cervical and lumbar spine among the nerves and spinal cord as well as a neurosurgeon because not every orthopedic surgeon can do that.
What are some of the more common injuries sustained when playing sports and what can one do to prevent them?
Some of the more common injuries in the spine is a cervical (which is common in sports activity like golf) or lumbar (which is common in running activity) disc herniation or disc rupture (also called slipped disc) either from repeated accumulative stress from weekend soccer or from a sudden fall or injury to the back or neck. Avoiding excessive sports and warm-ups/warm-down before and after sports can help to reduce the risk of such injury.
What are some of the sports you’ll recommend to someone with
existing shoulder or spine injuries?
I would recommend non-competitive solo exercises like cycling, brisk
walking, yoga/pilates/tai chi after a confi rmed injury like slipped disc. A
person can rarely resume competitive sports unless the disc problem is
permanently resolved usually with the help of surgery. Otherwise temporary
improvement by physiotherapy/chiropractic is only short term and the pain/injury will recur/relapse if one returns to playing sports.
Slipped disc appears to be a common condition among people with back issues. Can you describe what does it really mean and what characterizes this condition?
It means that one of the weight-bearing discs inside the spine has become
so worn out and degenerated with age that it ruptures after either a bad injury or trivial stress to the back or neck. The disc material (jelly-like cushion) herniates out of the disc (leaks out) into the nerves and causes nerve pain or numbness or weakness or worse nerve/spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis. This process is worrying because it is irreversible - it is impossible to push back a slipped disc.
What do you find interesting in your medical career?
It is rather interesting that all my patients who undergo surgery are
pleasantly surprised that they are not paralyzed after the spinal surgery.
They can go home on their own without help the next day, can return to work the same week even if they have been given a month of medical leave, can return to competitive sports with no more worries of relapse and are able to live a normal life without a disc. This illustrates the rapid advancement of modern medical knowledge and surgical techniques which are too fast for old traditional mistaken beliefs and an ingrained fear of spinal surgery. In fact, in this day of modern, safe and minimally invasive surgery, patients are still afraid of seeing a spine surgeon.
Dr Fong Shee Yan
MBBS MMedSurg FRCSEdOrth FAMSOrth
Island Orthopedic Consultants Pte Ltd (Spine)
Island Orthopaedic Consultants provides comprehensive general
and sub-specialised orthopaedics and trauma services.
Gleneagles Medical Centre
6 Napier Road, #02-16
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A
820 Thomson Road #01-04
Tel: 6356 0588
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