Elizabeth Gardner, MD, is a Yale Medicine orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure done with a thin, flexible tube equipped with tiny instruments on the end to view, diagnose and treat problems inside the knee, shoulder and hip.
Dr. Gardner, an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Yale School of Medicine, blends her love for medicine and for sports. As a Yale undergraduate, she played varsity field hockey and was captain of the women’s lacrosse team. She was recognized as an All-Ivy and Academic All-American player. After visiting Yale Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation for the first time as a surgical patient, she decided on the spot she wanted to work there. She spent her undergraduate summers shadowing physicians in the clinics and working in the research labs under the tutelage of Peter Jokl, MD, who participated in the first arthroscopy surgery in Connecticut.
Now Dr. Gardner uses the latest surgical and nonsurgical tools and techniques to treat Yale Medicine patients of all ages, athletes and non-athletes alike, for everything from osteoarthritis to shoulder pain. She is also a team physician for Yale University Athletics. Her goal is to find the best possible treatment and get patients back to their sports or other activities as quickly as possible.
She also has a keen interest in preventing injuries and surgeries—especially among young people. Even with the most advanced surgical procedures, many of these injuries turn into osteoarthritis, which, over time, can make it difficult to move without pain. “That’s not osteoarthritis at 75; that’s osteoarthritis at 35 or 40,” Dr. Gardner says.
Proper training and conditioning can help. Dr. Gardner is working with other Yale Medicine sports medicine specialists to educate and train coaches in Connecticut’s high schools and colleges to help their athletes avoid injuries, or to recover quickly from them. She believes this work will help her meet her goal of providing the most innovative surgeries, while also working to keep as many people as possible out of the operating room in the first place.