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Know the Difference Between Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Care

Know the Difference Between Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Care | UPMC Ireland

Sports medicine is a specialised medical service that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries for athletes and active people of all ages. The service is led by sports medicine physicians and is supported by chartered physiotherapists.

How Does Sports Medicine Differ from Orthopaedic Care?

Orthopaedic care focuses primarily on bone, muscle, and joint discomfort (often in chronic conditions). It may also use surgery as a last resort. Sports medicine, on the other hand, focuses on the treatment of acute, overuse sports/activities of daily living injuries, performance training, and concussion – no matter your age, athletic ability, or experience level.

For professional athletes, farmers, runners, golfers, gardeners, and a host of others, sports medicine can help with the aches and pains of sports injuries as well as injuries from daily physical activity and exercise. Sports medicine specialists and their physiotherapy colleagues will help you return to your valued activities.

What Are the Common Conditions Treated by Sports Medicine?

The most common conditions treated by sports medicine are:

  • Injuries to the knee, shoulders, and hips.
  • Chronic knee pain.
  • Sprains (primarily ankles).
  • Muscle strains and injuries.
  • Musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis.
  • Concussion.

Who Provides Sports Medicine Services?

Several types of sports medicine professionals can contribute to your care, including:

  • Sports medicine physicians.
  • Physiotherapists.
  • Strength and conditioning coaches.
  • Concussion specialists.

Sports Medicine Physicians

Sports medicine physicians are qualified specialists in the area of sports and exercise medicine and are trained to pinpoint weaknesses in the body for injuries caused from sports or physical activity. They provide comprehensive non-surgical care to patients to enhance health, improve performance, and prevent injury.

Sports medicine physicians also perform ultrasound-guided procedures, conduct thorough evaluations, and collect diagnostics to help guide the best next steps. They work closely with physiotherapists to develop treatment plans for acute injuries and for preventing future injuries.

In addition to physiotherapy, other nonsurgical treatment options may include injection therapies like cortisone shots and biologics, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

When surgery is needed, the sports medicine doctor will make a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon.

“Diagnosing patients and athletes and providing a treatment plan is our primary role as a sports medicine physician,” says UPMC Sports Medicine Consultant Dr. Jamie Kearns. “Communicating the diagnosis and treatment plan to patients, athletes, parents, coaches, and physiotherapists is just as vital for the best overall outcome.”

Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Strength and conditioning coaches work as part of a multidisciplinary team to ensure the best outcomes from an injury. This teamwork also helps to improve your performance or day-to-day functionality.

Concussion Specialists

Concussion specialists diagnose concussions and develop active, comprehensive treatment plans in which patients work with to get back to their activity. These specialists also see patients who have sustained concussions.

Physiotherapy Specialists

Physiotherapy specialists are a key recovery component. They are medical professionals who work to improve movement, relieve pain, and ultimately get patients back to the level of activity they had before the injury and/or surgery.

They specialize in areas such as concussion, hip, back, and knee injuries, and more. Sports medicine physicians prescribe physiotherapy as the primary treatment or recommend it along with another non-surgical approach. Physiotherapy can be used as a complement to orthopaedic surgery, either before or after the procedure.

UPMC Sports Medicine Clinics

In Ireland, patients have access to UPMC Sports Medicine's world-renowned services throughout the country. UPMC Sports Medicine Clinics and the UPMC Concussion Network offer a team of international sports medicine experts, cutting-edge equipment, and advanced sports medicine treatments for people of all ages and sports abilities.

UPMC Sports Medicine Clinics and physiotherapy services are available at the following locations: