When Would You See an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor?

A Man Smiling While Serving A Pickleball To A Woman Wondering If He Needs Orthopedic Sports Medicine

Do you need orthopedic sports medicine because your last basketball injury caused you to end up on the bench? Maybe that perfect pickleball shot got you the point but did so at the expense of your shoulder.

These are situations where the orthopedic and sports medicine specialties can help you get back to the activities you love. We’ll take a closer look at these medical disciplines, discuss the distinctions between sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons, and finally, when you should consider consulting an orthopedic sports medicine doctor.

What Does Orthopedic Sports Medicine Do?

Orthopedic sports medicine specializes in conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. Whether you have a minor sprain to more serious fractures or ligament tears, these professionals can help.

Orthopedic sports medicine focuses on:

  • Injury prevention
  • Treatment
  • Diagnosis
  • Rehabilitation

Is Sports Medicine the Same as Orthopedics?

Sports medicine and orthopedics are closely related but still have many distinct differences. 

While sports medicine primarily deals with the health and well-being of athletes and active individuals, orthopedics encompasses a broader scope, including the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions in people of all ages and activity levels. Orthopedics may also involve surgery if it is necessary.

What Is the Difference Between a Sports Medicine Physician and an Orthopedic Surgeon?

These two disciplines do have some things in common. For example, they both treat sports-related injuries. But there are some differences in the areas of focus. We’ll review a few of them below:

Sports Medicine Physician

These doctors specialize in non-surgical treatments for sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. They often emphasize preventative care, rehabilitation, and optimizing performance through exercise and training.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic surgeons, on the other hand, are trained to perform surgical treatments when necessary. Our orthopedic surgeons take a conservative approach to medicine: We’ll only consider surgery after other, noninvasive techniques have been tried. Our surgeons have extensive expertise in treating a wide variety of complex injuries and conditions.

Orthopedic surgeons have a scope of skills that extend beyond sports medicine. For example, orthopedic surgeons may also perform:

When Would You See an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor?

You would benefit from consulting an orthopedic sports medicine doctor when you experience:

Acute Injuries

Fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations due to sports or physical activities.

Overuse Injuries

Chronic pain from repetitive motions, such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel, or stress fractures.


Head injuries resulting from sports that require specialized assessment and management.

Muscle Imbalances

Issues related to muscle weakness, flexibility, or imbalances affecting your performance.

Pre-participation Evaluation

Comprehensive medical assessment before starting a new sport or exercise regimen.

Performance Optimization

Professional guidance to enhance your athletic performance and prevent future injuries.


Tailored plans after surgeries or injuries to regain strength and function.

Injured? Want to Improve Athletic Performance? Our Orthopedic Sports Medicine Physicians Are Partners in Your Care

In the realm of sports and physical activities, our orthopedic sports medicine doctors play a crucial role in ensuring your well-being, treating injuries, and helping you perform at your best. We also offer the convenience of physical therapy and rehabilitation on site. The result is a seamless continuation of care from professionals who work directly with your physician. 

Do you have any of the conditions mentioned earlier? If so, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us and see why we’ve been helping Raleigh and Triangle residents for almost 50 years. In addition, because our surgeons have affiliations with five hospitals and surgical centers, you have a choice of where you’d like to go to receive care.