Who is the Primary Care Sports Medicine Patient?

by Kaitlin Mahoney, D.O., CAQSM

Who is the Primary Care Sports Medicine Patient?

Primary care sports medicine physicians are a part of a team that takes care of your muscles and bones. They can treat anyone who is physically active and help them improve performance, prevent injury and maintain their physical activities. They also specialize in injury prevention and rehabilitation. Primary care sports medicine physicians usually have extensive knowledge of athletic training and can provide guidance on warmups, movements to help prevent injuries and recovery movements. They do not take the place of a regular primary care provider for annual physicals or care when you’re sick. 

Do I need to be an athlete to see a sports medicine provider? 

No. Anyone who has the desire to do a specific function that is causing them pain is considered an athlete. For example, if you are someone who enjoys gardening but is experiencing pain while doing it, you can see a sports medicine provider. The provider can walk you through the activity to see what is causing the pain and produce a plan to relieve that pain. This approach works for any kind of activity, including sports. Sports medicine providers often can communicate back and forth with your primary care physician to find the best plan for you.  

What types of arthritis do sports medicine providers treat? 

Providers can see any kind of arthritis. They can help identify where the pain is coming from, evaluate, x-ray and then provide the necessary treatment. If injections are needed, providers can also provide those. Injections can be helpful in fingers, wrists, ankles, elbows, knees, hip, back and neck. 

What is the value of the ImPACT concussion management system?  

The ImPACT concussion management system is a neurocognitive test that helps providers evaluate patients for a concussion. People who are at risk of a concussion can have a baseline test done before their sports season starts. If a concussion is suspected they can be tested again. The results can be compared to the baseline to evaluate if they have a concussion and to help providers create a custom treatment plan. With or without a baseline, it can also be used in recovery to continue to monitor symptoms and improvement. 

What is the value of stretching? 

The best way to warm up your muscles is to do some dynamic stretching. It can be more beneficial to do a light jog to warm up instead of doing static stand-still stretching. Dynamic stretching can also include movements like leg swings, lunges, butt kicks or high knees.  

Do you recommend online or in person appointments? 

It is much more beneficial for a new patient to be seen in person. Initial evaluations are easier to do if the patient is in the office and the provider can be hands-on. Telemedicine is great for follow-ups or check-ins to see how the patient is recovering or to talk about how physical therapy is going. 

What are the differences between an MRI and diagnostic ultrasound? 

The ultrasound is great for things that are outside of the joint, but it is limited because it cannot see through bone. If the provider is worried about something in the bone, they are going to order an MRI. The ultrasound can be a great tool to use first and it takes barely any time where the MRI has to be scheduled. An ultrasound is usually used to get more basic information while an MRI is usually used to prepare for surgery.