Sports doctor Marc Gruner, 36, trained at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and specializes in minimally invasive procedures and treatments to get patients back to normal after an injury. The Washington native works at Point Performance, a sports medicine clinic with a holistic approach to sports and activity recovery and medicine.
When did you get into sports medicine?
I was a high school basketball player and then I played in college and I was always getting injured and became really interested in my injuries. That transitioned to taking care of other people and becoming interested in other people’s injuries. I was a personal trainer for a period of time in the D.C. area and seeing how happy people were exercising. I thought there couldn’t be anything better in the world than trying to help people continue to move, so that they could have a high-functioning life.
How have you used your background as an athlete in your work?
Psychologically, I understand how difficult it can be to have an injury where you can’t do the things that you enjoy doing, whether that’s running, playing sports, hanging out with your kids. I know how difficult that can be for people. I’ve had a lot of treatments for my orthopedic injuries, so I’m able to empathize with the patient about what they’ve gone through and try to come up with a strategy, and help them understand their injury.
What are some common misconceptions about dealing with injuries?
The first one is that a sports medicine doctor only takes care of athletes, but they take care of anyone that wants to be active. A second myth is that there is a quick fix for everything, and there isn’t. It takes a whole sustainable approach to get someone healthy and active, and there’s no quick fix in life. Another myth is that regenerative medicine [replacing damaged tissues] doesn’t help patients out, but it really can.
How have you seen your field evolve over time?
When I was growing up in this area, everyone just went to their surgeon. The first thing that I learned through training is that these doctors love to do surgery, but they don’t know all the advances in medicine about non-surgical orthopedic injuries. Through training, it was amazing to me the difference of care that I saw. When a patient came in, we would look at them in a holistic way, examining the injury under ultrasound and saving many patients an unnecessary MRI. If therapy doesn’t work for the patient, I have a whole host of non-surgical options that just wasn’t told to me when I went to the orthopedist. So ultrasound-guided surgeries, ultrasound-guided injections, regenerative medicine, understanding that there’s all these things that can prevent a knee or hip replacement.
What are some of the newest treatments that you offer?
The two biggest ones which were both developed at Mayo Clinic is ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel surgery, so no incision and you can go back to work the same day. The other is this machine called Tenex, which does ultrasound-guided minimally invasive surgery and it can be really helpful for people who have tendon injuries. Another is called tendon scraping, which is for in-season young athletes who don’t have time to take off for recovery, and we actually allow them to go back to playing sports quicker.
How has your relationship with Judaism affected your work?
My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. They came here with nothing and grew up on a farm in New Jersey. Their work ethic and how they approached life and making sure that they had a good work-life balance and how they understood about giving back to their community was really important for me and I think that that blends into the type of practice I want to be at.