Both sports medicine doctors and orthopedic surgeons practice treating the musculoskeletal system. However, a sports medicine physician’s expertise involves treating sports injuries without surgery. In contrast, an orthopedic surgeon is trained to heal musculoskeletal injuries through surgery, and their surgery focuses on operative treatments.
Sports medicine doctors practice on the playing field and in the training room, while orthopedic surgeons practice in hospitals and operating theaters.
Sports Medicine Doctors
A sports medicine physician can treat musculoskeletal injuries or other bodily pain, such as arthritis. They are trained in helping maximize the function of injured joints and managing pain. They may work with physical therapists to develop a treatment plan that works for you.
Common musculoskeletal injuries that are non-operative include the following:
- Ankle sprains
- Muscle sprains
- Shoulder and knee injuries
- Stress fractures
- Rotator cuff tear
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendon rupture
Orthopedists can help patients who live with bone and joint pain, especially if the pain is chronic, they are unable to perform basic daily tasks, have a limited range of motion, cannot walk or stand, or have a sprain that doesn’t seem to be getting better.
For many patients, pain is one of the most widespread reasons to visit an orthopedist. They focus on nerves, muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage and any injuries that can impact your function, mobility, and quality of life.
Orthopedists are often consulted to address the following:
- Hip pain
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Ankle pain
- Knee pain
- Shoulder or wrist pain
Orthopedists can address injuries similar to sports medicine doctors, like stress fractures, tennis elbow, sprains, and more. While orthopedists can perform surgery, they are likely to recommend nonsurgical treatment if that is a viable alternative.
Each patient is different, and their unique treatment plan can vary.
Sports Medicine Doctors Versus Orthopedic Specialists
A critical difference between sports medicine doctors and orthopedic surgeons is that the treatment goals of their patients can be vastly different.
Many sports medicine doctors can offer preventative care to help their athletic patients avoid future injuries. Orthopedic surgeons can treat patients who suffer from chronic pain and injuries that are serious enough to require surgery.
Both sports medicine doctors and orthopedic specialists can help diagnose and treat injuries and determine a proper treatment plan. Each specialist may also refer patients to the other specialist or to different medical specialists for further assessments and treatment.
While both orthopedic specialists and sports medicine physicians require extensive medical training, the disciplines differ slightly. For example, a board-certified sports medicine physician may focus on internal medicine, family medicine, or emergency medicine. They must complete a national exam to be able to practice sports medicine. This certificate must be renewed every ten years, which means they must engage in ongoing education.
Orthopedic specialists may follow a traditional medical training path which can take at least 14 years to complete before taking and passing certification to practice orthopedic medicine.
One of the most crucial differences between both is the type of services each provides. For example, sports medicine doctors can provide the following:
- Treat acute sprains
- Evaluate and treat concussions
- Diagnose repetitive motion strain
- Create exercise guides
- Provide nutritional counseling
Orthopedic doctors can also provide these services, along with further treatments that sports physicians are not qualified to perform, including fracture repair, orthopedic surgery, spinal surgery, and joint tissue reconstruction.
Click cedaorthopedicgroup.com to learn more about both disciplines.