PHYSICIAN SPOTLIGHT: William Feldner, DO
Do all patients deserve the same get-better-fast approach the top athletes receive?
William Feldner, DO, thinks so.
“If an older patient wants to be able to walk in the mall for some exercise, but something keeps them from doing that, we need to fix that problem,” said Feldner, who specializes in primary care sports medicine as part of St. Anthony’s Physician Organization.
“If Steven Jackson gets sick, do you think somebody tells him, ‘Just go to bed for a week and you’ll be better?’” he said. “Same thing if Adam Wainwright has a shoulder and elbow problem. They don’t tell him to sit down and rest it a few days.
“It’s about a more assertive attitude. I want people to get better faster, so they can either continue or resume their normal activities.”
The approach is one Felder honed during his training, with a fellowship in primary care sports medicine at the St. Louis Orthopedic Sports Medicine Clinic.
While his practice shares some common ground with orthopedists, it maintains a broader scope.
“A lot of people associate sports medicine with musculoskeletal injuries. That’s only the tip,” he said.
“We’re seeing more in the media today about concussions, which is something most orthopedists don’t deal with. There are also athletes who have high blood pressure and diabetes.
“So my basic medical training allows me to care for those people as well, not just the ones who get hurt.”
Caring for patients as a physician is a goal Feldner has held since childhood. His parents clipped a newspaper article from his kindergarten year, in which he said he intended to become a doctor when he grew up.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Feldner earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Drury College. He received a doctor of osteopathy degree from the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa, and completed an internship at Tulsa Regional Medical Center.
Feldner was initially headed into orthopedics, but during his sports-medicine fellowship year, ultimately decided surgery wasn’t for him.
“Primary care sports medicine was the best of both worlds,” he said. “I have a little better family lifestyle, in that I don’t have to go running in to perform emergency surgery at who knows what hour of the night or day.
“I have pretty routine office hours – and I don’t have exorbitant malpractice.”
After his fellowship, Feldner spent seven years as a staff physician with Hunter SPORTS Medical Center in Fairview Heights, Ill., providing day-to-day care of athletic injuries as well as comprehensive medical care. He went on to serve as medical director and president of the Center for Sports Medicine and Family Practice in Fairview Heights.
Before joining St. Anthony’s in August 2012, he worked for the St. Louis County Health Department for 12 years as a sports-medicine consultant with the Institute for Family Medicine. His role included providing regular lectures on sports medicine for all St. Louis County Health Department physicians, as well as providing direct patient care at the John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley.
Over the years, Feldner has also served as a volunteer physician for both local and far-flung sporting events, from the St. Louis Marathon to USA women’s junior national volleyball championships in Mexico and Thailand. He also spent four years as medical director for Gateway International Raceway, with responsibility for overall track safety.
Feldner has served as editor for The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine and as a board member for the Joint Commission for Sports Medicine and Science. He is also past president of the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine.
In his current position, Feldner serves on the staff of St. Anthony’s Medical Center and practices with South County Family & Sports Medicine. He also serves as a team physician for Lindenwood University and USA Volleyball.
Feldner’s work at Lindenwood University takes him to the St. Charles campus for one afternoon a week to see the athletes there. It’s a positive note to his workweek.
“You’re dealing with a relatively young, healthy population that really wants to get better fast, so they’re very motivated to listen to me and all my instructions,” he said.
Otherwise, his practice spans a range of ages and issues.
“It largely depends on the day,” he said. “Some days, we see nothing but colds and flus and coughs. Other days, it’s blood pressure, diabetes, knee and shoulder and back pain, arthritis. It’s a little bit of everything.”
What ties it all together for Feldner is the approach he brings to each patient’s needs, through both his sports-medicine perspective and his osteopathic training.
“DO’s do have additional training in osteopathic manual therapy,” he said. “Some DO’s still do different kinds of manipulation, and some don’t.
“I do some, but it’s just an added tool I can use – similar to a physical therapist’s techniques – to help athletes restore more normal function and hopefully speed the healing process so they can get better faster.”
Feldner also applies his own personal understanding of musculoskeletal problems based on his experience as an active participant in sports throughout his life. His high school and college years included taking part in basketball, racquetball and football, while today he remains an avid golfer.
“Some of the things I do outside the office give me insight into other people’s issues and what needs to happen for them to get better,” he said.
In addition to playing golf as often as time and weather allow, Feldner’s off-hours activities include hiking with his family as well as playing the trumpet in two different bands and performing in concerts and events.
He also follows the activities of his two high-school age children, Sara and Max, along with wife Julie.