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New Sports Medicine Chief Blends New Techniques with Old School Philosophy


By Michelle Brubaker   |   November 06, 2012
UC San Diego Health’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery is proud to announce that Christopher Wahl, MD, has accepted the position as chief of Sports Medicine and is now accepting patients at the Perlman Clinic in La Jolla.  
Christopher Wahl, MD

Wahl is passionate about treating elite and recreational athletes and has earned a stellar reputation for the study of complex, high-energy traumatic sports injuries. A clinical leader, he is one of the nation's most experienced surgeons in the treatment of complex knee ligament injuries and dislocations.  His practice also focuses on cartilage restoration and transplantation, repair of the knee and shoulder, shoulder stabilization, rotator cuff pathology and treatment of fractures. 

For his efforts, Wahl is a nationally recognized surgeon, inspirational teacher and compassionate doctor who has been named repeatedly as a U.S. News &World Report “Top Doctor” in orthopaedics and sports medicine surgery.

“I have been fortunate to be surrounded by great teachers, mentors, partners and patients throughout my career - they've all taught me in so many ways,” said Wahl.  “I'm honored to bring some new ideas and expertise to UC San Diego Health, to work with my regional orthopaedic colleagues and become a valuable part of the active San Diego community.”

Wahl says he recognizes that a single medical issue can have many different solutions and that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating injures. The patient has to be deeply involved in the process of identifying options for care and this means a sincere commitment of time on behalf of the surgeon with every interaction.

“Whether working with elite athletes or not, my treatment philosophy has always been to try to act on my patients behalf as their advocate and educator and to be an exceptional physician and surgeon.  I try to learn about my patients as individuals, understand their goals and work toward these goals in the greater context of what the state-of-the-art orthopaedic science has to offer,” said Wahl.  “This quality of care takes the kind of time and effort that is rarely seen in today’s medical climate.  As the new chief of Sports Medicine, I am enthusiastic to build on UC San Diego Health’s exceptional resources to continue to cultivate something unique for our patients.”

Wahl is also an academician who has lectured and published extensively on sports medicine and surgery, including: the anatomic factors predisposing to anterior cruciate ligament tears, the treatment of recurrent shoulder dislocations associated with bone loss and the diagnosis and management of knee dislocations and multiple-ligament knee injuries.  In addition, he has developed several innovative surgical techniques for the treatment of cartilage repair, shoulder instability and revision surgery for failed procedures.

Prior to joining UC San Diego Health, Wahl served as associate professor and team physician for the University of Washington in Seattle where he was the orthopaedic surgeon for the Huskies' athletic teams, including football, men's basketball, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and tennis. 

Wahl attended medical school and completed his residency training at Yale University.  He completed a sports medicine and shoulder surgery fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the top-ranked orthopedic hospital in the United States.  He continued his professional education studying trauma surgery in Germany and Switzerland before starting his clinical practice.  In 2011, Wahl was awarded the American Orthopaedic Society Traveling Sports Medicine Fellowship and traveled throughout the countries of South America to visit sports medicine clinics, hospitals and institutes. 

“Outside of my clinical and academic responsibilities, I enjoy sailing, cycling, skiing and music with my wife, Suzanne, and our three young children.  Of course after moving to San Diego, I have been bitten by the surf bug as well,” said Wahl.  



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