In Columbus, Ga., and in orthopaedics, Jack C. Hughston, MD, is a well-known pioneer in the field of sports medicine. In Tennessee his notoriety is not as well known. However, Hughston orthopaedic physicians are carrying on his legacy through their local clinics and sports medicine programs. Dr. Hughston established The Hughston Clinic in Columbus in 1949. Now, 70 years later, the practice continues to grow with clinics in 6 states, specialized trauma services in major hospitals, and over 50 board-certified, specialty-trained physicians.

Creating Sideline Coverage

While working with crippled children during the 1940s, Dr. Hughston became interested in caring for young athletes; and, in 1951, his association with Auburn football coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan led to his becoming the Auburn Tigers’ team physician. Thus, a career in sports medicine was born.

Dr. Hughston’s professional relationship with Auburn’s head athletic trainer Kenny Howard helped form the affiliation between the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Medical Association. These new relationships led to the eventual certification and recognition of athletic trainers as allied healthcare providers, and team physicians took on a leading role in treating athletes on and off the field.

Because of his sideline observations of injuries to young athletes, Dr. Hughston helped institute the rules making it mandatory for high school football players to use a protective mouthpiece and to eliminate the practice of crack-back blocking.

Shared Medical Knowledge

Dr. Hughston fervently believed in sharing his medical knowledge and that being a successful educator was as important as being a physician. To that end, he partnered with Tulane University Medical School to start the first residency program in orthopaedic sports medicine. He founded the Hughston Foundation for research and education and established the first, and longest continuing, postdoctoral fellowship training program in orthopaedics and sports medicine in the world. More than 135 orthopaedic residents, 400 sports medicine fellows and 50 primary care fellows have trained at Hughston.

Dr. Hughston was a founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sport Medicine. He was the first editor of its scientific journal, the American Journal of Sports Medicine, which publishes articles on current medical research and surgical techniques in the field of sports medicine. The legacy of Dr. Hughston’s educational philosophy can be traced through the many scientific publications produced today by Hughston’s medical professionals. Their peer-reviewed medical journal articles, medical textbooks, and textbook chapters; their scientific presentations given at national and international meetings; and their patient education newsletter continue Hughston’s educational mission.

More than a Clinic

Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics offers specialized care in orthopaedics, sports medicine, and trauma, but it’s more than your average clinic. The clinic pairs an orthopaedic-specialized team of healthcare professionals with some of the best and most well-known, board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons in the country. This team, the business leadership, and state-of-the-art facilities allow them to provide outstanding evidence-based care to patients. In many of its locations, Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics offers patients the convenience of onsite diagnostic services, rehabilitation with physical therapist, and outpatient surgical treatments. The physicians are speciality-trained in the areas of spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, and ankle and they use the most innovative techniques and treatments in the orthopaedic field.

The Legacy Continues

Today, physicians at Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics continue Dr. Hughston’s legacy of sports medicine and exceptional orthopaedic care for athletes. They are team physicians for local high schools, colleges, and professional teams. They teach athletes how to protect themselves during practice and competitions and how to be better prepared for the game. The sports medicine team performs pre-participation physicals and fit athletes with needed braces to protect injuries. Additionally, the surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures to encourage faster healing and getting the athlete back in the game in less time. These doctors also perform joint replacements using innovative techniques and pioneering systems, such as the MAKOplasty Robotic Joint Replacement System.

The Tennessee physicians of Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics continue to carry on the 70-year Hughston legacy of exceptional sports medicine and orthopaedic care for area athletes and patients.

For more information about Dr. Jack Hughston and the clinic’s mission of research, education, and treatment check out the Hughston Foundation Annual Report.


Dennise Brogdon is a medical writer for The Hughston Foundation, Inc.