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Day 11: Sports Medicine

Should I See a Sports Medicine Specialist?

If you participate in sports, you may end up with aches and pains or even injuries that need to be seen by a doctor. But how do you decide if you need to see a sports medicine specialist?

To understand what a Sports Medicine specialist does, we asked Britta Anderson, DO, a Detroit Medical Center Non-surgical Sports Medicine Specialist.


“A sports medicine specialist is a doctor with an additional certificate, earned by completing specialized education and training focused on the medical and therapeutic aspects of sports participation and physical activity,” says Dr. Anderson. “This can be a doctor who is already certified in Family Practice, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, or Emergency Medicine.”


Who Should I See First for a Sports Injury?

“It depends on the problem,” says Dr. Anderson. “You family doc may have all the expertise needed to deal with minor or straight-forward musculoskeletal injuries like sprains and strains. However, if you have a complicated overuse or training injury, or a chronic condition like tendonitis, you may need to see a Sports Medicine specialist.”


Sports Medicine physicians may be surgeons or non-surgical. Both surgical and non-surgical sports medicine specialists can help you decide if you need surgery. Many sports injuries can be treated by a non-surgical sports medicine physician. If your sports injury will require surgery, you’ll want to see an orthopedic surgeon with a subs-specialty in Sports Medicine.


What about Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers?

Physical Therapists generally treat injuries based upon a doctor’s diagnosis. They often specialize in sports medicine and orthopedics. Finding the right PT can be a huge asset to an athlete, because they integrate training and rehab principles into injury recovery.


Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. Most work with sports teams on the high school and college level, but many now work in health clubs and with medical clinics. An ATC can help decide which injuries require a trip to a specialist.


Questions to Ask a Sports Medicine Specialist

  • When selecting someone to treat your injury and provide advice, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • What degrees and certifications do you hold?

  • What special training do you have in sports medicine?

  • What sort of experience do you have treating athletes?

  • What is your treatment specialty?


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Britta Anderson, D.O.
DMC Surgery Hospital

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