If you’re an athlete or active person who is injured, you want a doctor who understands your lifestyle and particular health concerns. Primary care sports medicine is orthopaedic care with a special focus on treating the injuries of athletes and avid exercisers. Your primary care sports medicine doctor works closely with the orthopaedic surgeon if that level of care is needed.
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What Is a Primary Care Sports Medicine Doctor?
Primary care sports medicine doctors complete a sports medicine fellowship, which is additional training after residency.
They’re often athletes themselves, so they understand at a personal level the connection between athletics and health. Some doctors in these practices serve as team doctors for club, high school, college, or professional sports teams and events. They often work with athletic trainers on the sidelines.
A sports medicine doctor may be an allopath (an MD) or an osteopath (a DO). Both MDs and DOs have the same vigorous medical training and licensure requirements. DOs take a more holistic approach to care, and often focus on preventive care. That’s why they are sometimes more common in sports medicine practices.
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Who Should See a Primary Care Sports Medicine Doctor?
While primary care sports medicine doctors can treat a wide range of orthopaedic conditions, they primarily focus on taking care of active people. Athletes are among the most common patients. But avid exercisers, weekend warriors, and people with physically demanding jobs (like construction workers, delivery drivers, or landscapers) also can see sports medicine doctors.
Active people of all ages may be more susceptible to injury. So a primary care sports medicine doctor may focus quite heavily on injury prevention. Physical therapists also may be part of the practice. If you are an active person (competitive/recreational athlete or regular exerciser) in need of nonsurgical orthopaedic care, a primary care sports medicine doctor can make a diagnosis, recommend an individualized treatment plan, and get you back to the activities you love.
Conditions Primary Care Sports Medicine Doctors Treat
Some primary care sports medicine doctors see many of the same ailments that a traditional primary care doctor sees. But at UPMC Sports Medicine, our primary care sports medicine doctors are part of the UPMC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. While they see student-athletes at partner schools for a variety of injuries and illnesses, they are orthopaedic doctors who specialize in sports medicine. But they aren’t surgeons.
Our sports medicine doctors do ultrasound-guided procedures, see all orthopaedic injuries, conduct thorough evaluations, and collect diagnostics to help guide the best next steps. Keep in mind that they’re not primary care doctors for everyone and do not conduct general wellness visits.
Common reasons patients seek primary care sports medicine include:
- Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis
- Acute injuries like sprains, strains, and fractures
- Osteoarthritis (joint pain)
- Injury prevention information/physical therapy referrals
- Return-to-play visits (signing off for athletes to return after an injury)
If you’re an athlete, avid exerciser, or active person with an injury, a consider primary care sports medicine doctor to help you understand the full scope the injury, create a treatment plan tailored to your needs, and help you return to your sport or a favorite activity.
To schedule 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.