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Sports Medicine and Joint Replacement Specialists Welcome Derrick Fluhme, MD

By Nancy Kennedy


Derrick L. Fluhme, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, has recently formed a partnership with Gregory Habib, D.O., in a new practice called Sports Medicine and Joint Replacement Specialists. The practice, with locations in Mt. Lebanon and Greensburg, will focus on total knee and hip replacement surgery; arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder; and care of adults with sports-related injuries and problems of the musculoskeletal system. Dr. Fluhme practiced with South Hills Orthopedic Surgical Associates for 16 years. Derrick L. Fluhme, M.D.

Dr. Fluhme performs state-of-the-art orthopedic surgery at St. Clair Hospital, Advanced Surgical Hospital in Washington, and Radiance Surgery Center in Bridgeville. He says that total joint replacement surgery has evolved tremendously, especially in the management of post-operative pain. “For knee replacement especially, the entire peri-operative experience has changed,” he says. “We provide much more patient education and preparation, including classes and interventions to minimize discomfort, and this makes a significantly better patient experience. To reduce pain we use a cryotherapy technique called Iovera, which is performed with a hand-held instrument and can be done in the office setting, taking about 15 minutes. We use it two weeks pre-operatively in an effort to reduce pain post-operatively. Iovera numbs the sensory nerves around the knee, essentially freezing them. It gradually thaws post-operatively, over a period of several months. Iovera decreases pain but maintains function.”

Pre-op preparation for joint replacement includes optimizing the patient medically, getting them into the healthiest condition possible, Dr. Fluhme says. “The pre-op screening process can reveal medical problems such as diabetes, obesity or a heart condition that must be under control before surgery can be safely performed. This optimization process reduces the complication rate and risk of re-admission and shortens length of stay. It improves outcomes and facilitates rehabilitation.”

Sports medicine is the heart of their practice, and both Dr. Fluhme and Dr. Habib are themselves athletes and sports enthusiasts. “You might assume that we see mostly young athletes but in fact the majority of our patients are ages 40 to 90. I still want that to be our focus. We see patients who are living healthy active lives into their 80’s and even beyond. Every day, I see competitive athletes in their 70’s. It’s all in your mind. Body follows mindset.”

Quality of life is the guiding principle that drives Dr. Fluhme’s commitment to excellence in the care of his patients. “Quality of life is defined by each individual,” he says. “My role is to understand what my patients define as quality of life for themselves. For one patient, that might mean traveling; another might feel that playing golf with friends is important. I do my best to help my patients attain and maintain the quality of life they aspire to. I ask, ‘What can I do to help you achieve your goals?’ We go through every option and determine how to best reach their goals, whether through medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, biologic injections such as PRP and/or stem cells, or surgery. Surgery is always the last option; nine out of ten patients won’t need surgery and can be treated conservatively. If we determine that you do need surgery, we have state-of-the-art technology. Many problems can be treated with minimally invasive technology. The goal is always to focus on what matters most: excellent patient care.”
           
Dr. Fluhme’s decision to make this transition in his professional life came about in the summer of 2020, when the COVID 19 pandemic left him and many of his fellow physicians with reduced schedules. “Due to the pandemic, I had spare time last summer and an unexpected opportunity to consider my situation. I know that a lot of doctors spent the ‘COVID time’ reflecting. I thought about my practice and asked myself ‘How can I have a more effective practice model?’ I decided to simplify and scale back – to hit refresh. I have a smaller practice now with one partner, and for me that’s an effective and efficient model. Most importantly, this model is better for my patients. I believe that a smaller practice enhances the doctor-patient relationship. That’s more satisfying for me.”

Fluhme believes that his own quality of life has improved as well as that of his patients. “I have balance in my life now. I coach my boys, Milan and D’Angelo, and have more time with them and my wife Tiffany.”

 Fluhme is a Pittsburgh native who grew up in Pleasant Hills and attended Thomas Jefferson High School. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, and earned a master’s degree in physiology and his M.D. degree from Georgetown University. He completed his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a fellowship in sports medicine at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

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To learn more about Sports Medicine and Joint Replacement Specialists, visit the web site, www.drgreghabib.com. To make an appointment for the Mt. Lebanon or Greensburg location, call (412) 207-9780.



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