Dr Benedict Tan – An Expert’s Advice on Sports Injuries Posted on September 20, 2017

By Rameshon


Picture 1 – Dr Benedict Tan

I have already interviewed Dr Ashley Liew and Dr Ansgar Cheng who gave their expert views on running on different terrain. The third and final expert that I had been having my mind was Dr Benedict Tan, a Sports Physician, to discuss on injuries, itself. Before proceeding further, it will be good to summarise on how I got to know him in the past, and subsequently discuss about him.

My former colleague Daniel Ling and I met Dr Benedict Tan in Berlin as we were all there for the Berlin Marathon, in year 2008. He did 3hr 01min for the race, After the meeting us, and having a discussion, Dr Benedict decided to join us in our training for  a total of 5 times. He came only for intensive workouts, before Stanchart Marathon 2008, where he came third position overall for men open race, in early December. He did a personal best time of 2hr 56min, which was his personal best time. 


Picture 2 – A book on ‘Run for Your Life’ By Dr Benedict Tan

After achieving the sub-3hour time for the marathon, he got a book published and it has all that one wants to know about long distance and marathon, especially on how  to train for distance events.   

Moreover, he has got many notable experts to give their inputs in the book, and he edited the book. It is a very good book for one to get hold on to, as it is comprehensive, and it discusses on a variety of interesting topics related to running. Dr Benedict Tan, was 3 times Sportsman of the Year winner, in the past. He is now a nominated MP and he is also the Chief & Senior Consultant (Department of Sports Medicine, Changi General Hospital).He has been an avid runner with indepth knowledge of injuries in sports, and he does his best to help many sports people to come out of injuries, as soon as possible. Nearly all sportsperson that I have met, one way or another, have experienced seeing Dr Benedict Tan for sports injuries. I was his patient a few times and he is good for giving expert consultation on injuries and its treatment. Hence, I have decided to pose some Frequently Asked Questions from the public to him to discuss on Sports injuries, in the form of an interview. 

An Interview With Dr Benedict Tan

1. Explain what an acute injury is?
Injury that happens instantaneously rather that over time.

2. Explain what a repetitive injury is?
Injury that results from repeated movements over time, such as a wrist injury that results from repeated flicking of the badminton racket.

3. Describe what a sensation is.
Injuries present as symptoms and signs. A symptom is what you feel or complain of, such as pain, stiffness, tingling sensation. A sign is what the doctor picks up during a physical examination, e.g. a raised temperature, crepitations, joint swelling.

4. How will you explain what an injury is?
In an injury there is structural damage to the body, such as a torn muscle, a fractured bone, worn down cartilage, etc.

5. What is short term injury?
See (6)

6. What is long term injury?
An injury can be acute (see (1) ) or chronic. The latter is where the injury persists, usually for more than two weeks.

7. What is a permanent injury ?
Our body is unable to repair certain tissues, such as cartilage, back to its original condition. Hence cartilage that you lose, is permanent.

8. In your experience, when does an athlete need an MRI scan?
Doctors apply certain criteria before doing any investigation. This is to ensure that the benefits of the test outweigh its risk or cost. This applies especially to tests like MRIs. Hence, do leave it to your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of doing an MRI. Many injuries can be diagnosed accurately through a history and examination, without the need for expensive investigations.

9. Knee problems, between active and inactive people, who will get this injury earlier?
There are many different knee injuries, and each has its own causes, symptom, sign, prognosis, and management. Some injuries are activity related while others are not. There are even injuries that result from being overly sedentary.

10. For knee problems, are there prescriptions by you to solve if one has such an injury?
Always determine the diagnosis before prescribing the treatment, as each diagnosis is treated differently. For example, you would want to apply ice if there is inflammation or swelling, and heat if there is muscle soreness (rather than the other way round).

11. What is the cost for total knee replacement?
When your doctor recommends a treatment, he would not only explain the rationale for the recommendation, but also the costs and possible complications. This is especially so when surgery is recommended – do seek such information from your own doctor.

12. What are the types of activities one can do to reduce their injury when they are injured? (For example, shin injury).
Each injury has its own treatment. Once your doctor arrives at a diagnosis, he will recommend a treatment plan based on the diagnosis. There is a multitude of treatment options, from activity modification to drugs to physiotherapy to surgery, depending on the diagnosis.

13. What advice will you give to the public to avoid injury?
Prevention is better than cure. It always pays to take preventive measures such as progressive training, periodization, strengthening, establishing a strong fitness and skill foundation, wearing protective equipment, etc.

14. When does an athlete need to see an orthopaedic surgeon?
Orthopaedic surgeons are surgeons who deal with musculoskeletal conditions.