What is the difference between a Sports Medicine Physician and an Orthopedic Surgeon?

What is the difference between a Sports Medicine Physician and an Orthopedic Surgeon? | NASA MRI Blog

Training & Treatment Differences

Both orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine physicians specialize in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. However, a Sports Medicine Physician’s expertise lies in the non-operative treatments of sports injuries. They train on the sports field and in the training room. An orthopedic surgeon is trained in the operative treatment of a musculoskeletal injury, and their training involves operating tables and hospitals.

If you have been injured while participating in sports, your Sports Medicine Specialist will work to:

  • Maximize function
  • Reduce time away from your sport
  • Create a non-operative treatment plan

A Sports Medicine Physician can also accelerate referral to an orthopedic surgeon if a surgical option is required. However, most sports injuries do not require surgery.

Non-Operative Musculoskeletal Injuries

  • Acute Injuries – These can include ankle and muscle sprains, knee and shoulder injuries, and bone fractures
  • Overuse Injuries – Stress fractures, tendonitis or tendinosis, and rotator cuff impingement
  • Osteoarthritis & Tendonitis – Plantar fasciitis, bursitis, gout, arthritis

Sports Medicine Specialists don’t just treat athletes

Knowledge gained from years of treating athletes applies just as well to the treatment of non-athletes. Because the overall success of sports medicine involves returning a patient to the highest level of function, it can easily be applied to the treatment of those who are injured from things like car accidents and injuries common with the aging process such as arthritis and sprains.