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What Is the Difference Between Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy?

The Western Slope of Colorado provides a wide range of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and it’s no surprise that many people in this region lead a very active lifestyle. While skiing, climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities bring tremendous joy, they also come with the risk of injury.

If you’ve suffered a sports injury, you may wonder whether you should visit a sports medicine doctor or a physical therapist. While both of these healthcare professionals can play an integral role in your recovery after a sports injury, it’s important to understand the difference between these disciplines when deciding who to visit first.

What Is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is a discipline focused on diagnosing and treating injuries that occur during athletics or some form of physical activity. A sports medicine physician is usually certified in internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, or a similar discipline. In addition, these doctors then complete one to two years of fellowship training in sports medicine. Some sports medicine doctors are also orthopedic surgeons, enabling them to perform extensive surgical procedures that may be necessary after a serious injury.

A wide range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments are available as part of sports medicine, and our doctors will recommend the ideal treatment plan to facilitate a full recovery. In many instances, sports medicine treatments will include a rehabilitation component such as physical therapy to help restore full strength and mobility.

Common procedures performed by a sports physician include:

What Is Physical Therapy?

physical therapy Physical therapy is often a component of sports medicine treatments, but it has broader applications than just sports medicine. It’s a healthcare discipline focused on improving mobility and function after an injury, as well as alleviating pain. In addition to aiding recovery after an injury, physical therapy can be used to treat a chronic, debilitative condition.

Physical therapists receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. In addition to working with sports injury patients, they help individuals experiencing a wide range of issues associated with mobility and pain.

Common physical therapy treatments include:

Which Is Right for Me?

If you’ve suffered an injury during athletic activity, it’s generally best to visit a sports medicine doctor first. This will ensure your injury is properly diagnosed and you receive the best treatment plan to make a full recovery. In many instances, physical therapy will be part of your treatment after a sports injury, and a sports medicine physician will recommend visiting a physical therapist when needed.

If your injury didn’t occur during athletic activities, you most likely don’t need to visit a sports medicine doctor. However, it’s a good idea to have your condition evaluated by a doctor before visiting a physical therapist. While physical therapists can help treat a wide range of injuries and conditions, they aren’t qualified to diagnose the issue. Often, you may want to see an orthopedist to determine the best course of action and ensure you make a full recovery.

Colorado Advanced Orthopedics Offers Comprehensive Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy Services

Colorado Advanced Orthopedics offers a wide range of treatments to help you get back to enjoying your favorite activities. Our sports medicine team includes some of the finest board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists on the Western Slope.

Our doctors have the background necessary to accurately diagnose your condition and deliver the ideal treatment plan to help restore function after a sports injury. With a wide range of surgical and nonsurgical procedures at our disposal, our team can deliver the quality care you need.

In addition, we have two physical therapy locations to facilitate your rehabilitation after an injury. Our Meeker physical therapy clinic is located in Pioneers Medical Center and serves patients in the White River Valley. Our Craig physical therapy clinic serves patients in Moffit and Routt Counties in Colorado, as well as patients in Southern Wyoming.

Our physical therapists have undergone extensive training and utilize a wide range of approaches, ensuring we can deliver the specific treatment necessary to help you make a full recovery. In addition, when you work with our sports medicine and physical therapy teams, you benefit from greater collaboration and more coordinated care between the teams. Our sports medicine physicians will work closely with our physical therapists to ensure your specific needs are being met every step of the way.

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

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