If you’ve sustained a musculoskeletal injury, especially one that is causing you nagging pain and limited mobility, it is natural for you to think of a way to get back in the game quickly.
Your best course of action is to see a doctor—but which one? You have two excellent choices: sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon. However, it’s important to take note that the two fields have overlapping aspects, so it pays to get a better understanding of what exactly sets them apart. Let’s take a closer look.
Sports Medicine Physician
Sports medicine physicians mainly focus on leveraging the benefits of nonsurgical and regenerative treatment options—such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, stem cell therapy, and physical therapy— to help patients restore their normal function in the least invasive way.
If a certain injury or condition does require surgery, there are sports medicine physicians who are also orthopedic surgeons, thus can perform surgery. However, those who have a baseline training in primary care sports medicine— such as family medicine, internal medicine, and rehabilitation medicine—are only limited to providing nonsurgical care and referrals.
Sports medicine physicians treat acute, chronic, and overuse injuries, including sprains, strains, tendon problems, and fractures. However, the scope of sports medicine is not limited to treating injuries; sports medicine physicians also promote the importance of exercise in the prevention of injuries and helping athletes boost their overall sports performance.
For a person to become a full-fledged orthopedic surgeon, they must earn a bachelor’s degree in a science field, then spend four years in medical school, plus a minimum of five years in a residency program. It’s typical to also undergo a fellowship training program focused on an orthopedic surgery subspecialty, such as podiatric (foot and ankle) surgery.
Therefore, if your musculoskeletal injury or condition requires surgery, as mentioned, a sports medicine physician will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon—when nonsurgical treatment methods fail to give you satisfactory result. An orthopedic surgeon’s training is apparently in the hospital or operating room, but they can also meet their patients in the office.
Orthopedic surgeons have a wider patient base; thus, they also treat patients with the following conditions:
- Back pain (due to ruptured discs and spinal stenosis)
- Bone tumors
- Bow legs
- Carpal tunnel, hand arthritis, and hand injuries
- Congenital hip dislocation (hip dysplasia)
- Foot and ankle injuries or deformities
- Leg length discrepancy
- Orthopedic trauma
Orthopedic surgeons can perform tissue repair, joint replacement surgery, spinal surgery, among other procedures deemed necessary for restoring a person’s normal function and movement.
Board-Certified Sports Medicine Physician in South Texas
At The Podiatry Group of South Texas, we have board-certified sports medicine physicians who are also podiatric surgeons, giving you exceptional nonsurgical and surgical care for your foot or ankle injury.
At the Podiatry Group of South Texas, we don’t just treat sports injuries affecting the foot or ankle. We work with anyone involved in sports—the amateur, the elite, and the weekend warrior—to help them both lower their risk of injury and reach their full athletic potential in the safest way possible.