Western Springs doctor cares for Chicago sports teams
Dr. Greg Nicholson of Western Springs, an orthopedic surgeon with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Chicago, is one of the team physicians for the White Sox and Bulls. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 6:05AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — The physical nature of professional sports means the players of teams like the Bulls and the White Sox have a higher-than-average risk of a workplace injury. To minimize the risk and to ensure the players can get back on the court as soon as possible after an injury, the teams hire physicians like Dr. Greg Nicholson of Western Springs, sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
Q. What got you interested in sports medicine as an orthopedic specialty?
A. Shoulders and elbows encompass a lot of injuries, in general, not just sports injuries. I do a lot of things, soup to nuts, 8-year-olds to 84-year olds. I was just fascinated by how our body works. The shoulder is a very complex joint in the body and there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of information and training in that area when I was in school and my early career. The throwing athlete and the overhead athlete appealed to me because there wasn’t a lot out there. I’m a shoulder and elbow guy. At the time there weren’t that many shoulder and elbow guys. There was more of an opportunity to contribute in that area.
Q. How did you come to be one of the physicians attending the Bulls and the White Sox?
A. You need a couple of orthopedists, and you need good doctors on the medical side. You also need to have a good relationship with an eye doctor, a dentist, an oral surgeon because so many things can happen at a game. We had the critical mass. The White Sox approached us. It was a good fit. It wasn’t like we were vying to be their doctors. A lot of it is trainer and GM-driven. I think it was the reputation of our sports medicine program at Rush. Being a team physician is managing that expectation and the information along with the injury.
Q. Do you work all the games or just the home games?
A. Our model is we have an orthopedic surgeon at every game and a medical doctor at every game. For the White Sox, I do spring training and do pitcher and catcher exams and cover about 20 games a year. Our group of physicians covers about 81 home games for the White Sox, practically a game every night. With the Bulls, you have 40-41 home games. When we cover the team, we also cover the visiting team. Now, when the team makes the playoff, the regular doctor travels with the team.
Q. What have you learned about the types of injuries faced by professional players that are applicable to those of us shooting hoops on our driveways or joining softball teams at work?A.
I think it’s very applicable. When we go out and play weekend pickup basketball, you’re going to step on somebody’s foot. Sprained ankles are very common. Foot issues – you can get the plantar fasciitis, banged kneecaps. Those are prevalent for NBA players, along with the weekend pickup guy. When you talk about softball, we don’t go out and play every day and we wonder when we go out why it is we got injured. It’s really the same physical injuries and processes. There just isn’t the dire need to get back into the game.
Q. What are your favorite things to do as a resident of Western Springs?
A. I’ve got four kids, two in college and two in high school. For the last 10 years, we’ve done all the great sports-related stuff that there is in Western Springs. Really, the community stuff and being involved in the youth stuff has taken up a lot of our time. We’re blessed with a lot of golf great golf courses. It’s great playing golf with friends when I can find the time.