What is a non-operative orthopedist? Non-operative sports medicine orthopedic physicians (also referred to as primary care sports medicine physicians or just sports medicine physicians) have been around for quite some time. The main organizing body, the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine (AMSSM), was founded in 1991 and has grown from the original 125 members to over 4000 members. Despite this growth and increasing public awareness, we still get questions at Winning Health about what it is we do.
Training starts off in a primary specialty like family medicine (Dr McMarlin), pediatrics (Dr Upshaw), emergency medicine, internal medicine or physical medicine and rehabilitation. During their primary residency, they further their understanding of the basics of medicine (eg. How to take care of an asthma attack, how to identify a rash, how to read an x-ray). After that initial residency, a sports medicine nonoperative orthopedic physician will spend 1-2 years in a sports medicine fellowship where they learn more about the care of active people of all ages. All fellowships have the same curriculum requirements regardless of what that physician’s primary residency was and all fellows take the same certifying exam at the end of fellowship.
What do we do? We are trained to take care of nonoperative orthopedic injuries and medical issues that active people encounter. They are trained in side-line management, emergent stabilization and comprehensive longitudinal care. They are also trained in ultrasound-guided injections and rehabilitative medicine. Common problems that a sports medicine physician might care for include: *
• Concussion evaluation and management
• Fracture evaluation and management
• Return-to-play decisions for sick or injured athletes
• Nutrition, strength and conditioning and performance issues
• Exercise prescription for patients wanting to increase fitness
• Injury risk assessment
• Comprehensive non-surgical care for activity-related conditions (tendon/joint injuries, osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal issues)
• Ultrasound -guided procedures
*Taken from AMSSM website
What is the difference between a sports medicine nonoperative orthopedic physician and an orthopedic surgeon? Both are physicians and both care for orthopedic injuries. Orthopedic surgeons are the experts on the surgical care of orthopedic injuries; Sports medicine physicians focus on the nonoperative and medical care of the active person. Sports medicine physicians frequently refer patients who need surgery to orthopedic surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons frequently refer patients who have nonoperative issues, such as a concussion, to their non-operative colleagues.
Hopefully that clarifies these common confusions for you. At Winning Health, we are also athletes and understand the drive our patients possess to remain active regardless of their age. We provide comprehensive care with a wellness-based approach that considers all aspects of the patient’s medical needs. We are here if you need us!