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What Is the Difference Between Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine?

Musculoskeletal injuries are quite common and can occur to just about anyone. You don’t have to be an athlete to sprain an ankle, break a bone or suffer a repetitive use injury such as tennis elbow. When these injuries happen, you may be wondering whether you should visit an orthopedist or a sports medicine doctor.

It’s understandable why these two medical specialties are often confused with each other. After all, there are significant overlaps between advanced orthopedics and sports medicine. However, they are two distinct medical specializations. Understanding the difference between advanced orthopedics and sports medicine will help you determine the right specialist to treat your specific condition.

Differences in Education and Specializations

Both sports medicine and advanced orthopedics focus on treating conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system, but there are significant differences in the breadth and depth of their knowledge. This is due to the fact that these specializations have distinct education and training requirements.

Advanced Orthopedics

Advanced orthopedics focuses on the diagnoses, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, diseases and conditions. This includes issues associated with your muscles, ligaments, tendons, soft tissues, joints and bones. Orthopedic specialists focus strictly on the field of advanced orthopedics as a whole, and typically don’t touch on any other areas of specialization.

The education and training for an orthopedist is relatively traditional. They must complete medical school, a residency in advanced orthopedics, and then pass a certification exam to become board-certified in the field of orthopedics. This training allows them to perform both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for just about any musculoskeletal issue. This may include:

Sports Medicine

sports medicine doctor Sports medicine doctors take a holistic approach that not only treats musculoskeletal issues, but also seeks to optimize their patient’s physical performance. They also have a broader focus that extends beyond the field of advanced orthopedics, allowing them to treat non-orthopedic conditions that may develop when individuals are engaged in athletic activities.

The education and training for a sports medicine doctor is more extensive in scope. They must complete medical school, an internship, residency, fellowship and board certification in a basic area of medicine such as family, internal or pediatric medicine. They must then undergo an additional fellowship training in sports medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of injuries suffered during exercise and athletic activities. After this fellowship, they must pass an exam that certifies them to practice sports medicine.

Differences in Approach to Treatment

The differences in the training for each of these specializations also result in two distinct approaches to treatment as well as a slightly different focus regarding the conditions treated.

In general, you’ll see an orthopedic doctor practicing within a hospital or clinic setting. Due to the narrow focus and highly specialized nature of their training, orthopedists strictly treat musculoskeletal issues, and there are no limitations to the conditions they can treat associated with bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons and soft tissues. This specialization also allows them to treat certain musculoskeletal conditions that aren’t within the scope of sports medicine, such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

While sports medicine doctors can be found practicing in hospitals or clinics, they also often practice outside of these settings. For example, it’s common to see sports medicine doctors working with athletes at training sessions to help them prepare for competition. In addition, they also often work as sports team doctors. Sports medicine doctors will often collaborate with physical therapists and athletic trainers to help athletes recover from injury and resume peak performance.

Sports medicine doctors often treat many of the musculoskeletal conditions handled by orthopedists, but they typically focus on nonsurgical solutions. They treat a wide range of acute injuries that occur on the playing field as well as repetitive use injuries that develop over time, such as tendinitis.

In addition, their holistic focus allows them to provide services that go beyond the scope of treatment. For example, sports medicine doctors may assess the severity of an athlete’s injury during the game to determine whether they are able to continue playing. They may also create customized nutrition and exercise plans to help athletes optimize their physical performance.

Differences in Patients Treated

sports medicine patient Orthopedists have no limitations on the patients they treat. Since the field of advanced orthopedics focuses on comprehensive treatment of all musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, these doctors will treat any patient at any stage of life experiencing one of these issues.

Sports medicine doctors, on the other hand, focus on treating patients who are seeking to optimize their physical abilities for athletic endeavors. This may involve treating sports injuries or preventive measures to help avoid future injuries. However, you don’t need to be a professional or amateur athlete to be treated by a sports medicine doctor. These specialists also treat hobbyists and casual athletes who enjoy being active and fit.

Raising the Bar for Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Treatment on the Western Slope

Whether you need treatment from an advanced orthopedic doctor or a sports medicine physician, Colorado Advanced Orthopedics can help. Our team includes some of the finest and most experienced board-certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors on the Western Slope. We pride ourselves on delivering world-class care that helps you restore a pain free life and gets you back to enjoying your favorite activities as soon as possible.

Our orthopedic surgeons have fellowship training and advanced skills in total joint care, enabling them to perform complicated procedures using the latest and most advanced techniques. Each surgeon on our team possesses a different area of specialization, ensuring that we have the ability to treat just about any condition you may have. This level of expertise and scope of specialization is unmatched anywhere on the Western Slope.

We also offer the most comprehensive sports medicine services in the region. Our team of sports medicine doctors complement the services provided by our orthopedics team, giving you access to the most advanced nonsurgical treatments available.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Colorado Advanced Orthopedics serves patients in Meeker and throughout the White River Valley.

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