Primary care sports medicine is nonoperative orthopaedic care for athletes, weekend warriors, and physically active people of all ages. After receiving a medical degree and completing a residency in family medicine or internal medicine, a doctor with a special interest in treating athletes may go a step further, completing a fellowship in sports medicine.
That’s when they become primary care sports medicine doctors and work to receive board certifications in family medicine/internal medicine and sports medicine. At UPMC, primary care sports medicine doctors work in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, collaborating with physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors, orthopaedic surgeons, radiologists, physical therapists, and others to achieve a seamless continuum of care for patients.
Sports medicine doctors have a special focus on treating the injuries of athletes and avid exercisers. They are often athletes themselves, and commonly serve as team doctors for sports teams, clubs, and major events (like the Pittsburgh Marathon) alongside athletic trainers and physical therapists.
Wonder if seeing a sports medicine doctor is right for you? While there are many conditions and injuries that may lead you that way, here are just a few reasons to visit one.
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1. You Were Injured While Exercising or Playing a Sport
Maybe you twisted or rolled your ankle while running, and it’s still swollen 3 days later. Or you jammed that finger a little too hard playing beach volleyball. Sports medicine doctors are experts at identifying and treating sprains, strains, and fractures.
Being injured during activity isn’t just limited to traditional exercise and sports. If you have a physically demanding job, like construction or landscaping, for example, and you sustain an orthopaedic injury to muscles and/or bones, chances are you can see a primary care sports medicine doctor.
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2. You’re in Pain and Suspect It’s Related to Exercise
Repetitive motion activities like running, swimming, cycling, and rowing can cause pain that doesn’t go away the way normal muscle pain does. Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, are common in active people.
A sports medicine doctor is familiar with these injuries and what causes them. They’ll work with you to create a care plan that helps you return to doing what you love as quickly and safely as possible. Common nonsurgical treatments for conditions like tendonitis include rest or activity modifications, anti-inflammatory medicines, injections, physical therapy, stretching exercises, ice, or elevation. These are just a few options that may be suggested during a visit, but treatment is tailored to you, your specific injury, and your personal goals.
3. You Think You Have Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis. It can feel like an ache or stiffness. Your risk for developing OA goes up as you age.
If you’ve had previous injuries, like breaks or sprains, you may develop OA in that joint. The most common places are hips, knees, back, hands, and feet. A sports medicine doctor can diagnose OA and figure out the best treatment for you.
While the sports medicine title may sound intimidating, don’t shy away if you don’t play a sport. When you’re active — even into your 70s or 80s — a primary care sports medicine doctor may be the right choice for you.
To learn more or make an appointment with a primary care sports medicine doctor, please call 1-855-937-7678 or contact us online.
About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.