Runner’s World Magazine recently put out a fantastic article by Carl Leivers entitled “You’re Injured, Who can Help?” in their November/December 2015 issue. In recent years, runners and athletes have more immediate access to a variety of practitioners and specialists, without first going through the “gatekeeper” of a primary care physician. For instance, many of the major insurance companies now allow patients to “self-refer” themselves to their choice of sports medicine specialist, chiropractic physician, physical therapist, orthopedist, or massage therapist.
Going straight to the provider of your choosing may allow athletes quicker access to the most appropriate treatment for their injury, thereby decreasing downtime due to injury. But with so many different providers of various specialties, how can you make sure you are choosing the right practitioner so you don’t inadvertently waste your time (and money), and potentially take longer to recover?
- Choose a Gatekeeper: It’s important to find and keep a consistent practitioner you see when you get hurt, who knows you and can help you coordinate other specialties and help you navigate the healthcare system.
- Evaluate Credentials: Confirm the practitioner you are considering is licensed, and you may be interested in learning if they have any advanced certifications or education. You will also want a practitioner with a lot of experience working with athletes, as they may have a better understanding of the most common injuries, and how to tailor a treatment for an athlete as opposed to the general populatin. Lastly, ask around and make sure your practitioner has a good reputation.
- It Takes a Team: As stated by Carl Leivers, “Because no practitioner can effectively treat every type of injury, your initial gatekeeper should be comfortable working with a larger team that includes chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and physicians. “The more people you have in your corner that are experienced and you trust, the better,” Glass says.” Ultimately, you will probably rely on your initial contact to help guide you through other experts and treatment options.
- Be a Good Patient: Seek examination and treatment when you get hurt, especially you are having to modify your workouts for more than a few days, or an injury is either persisting or worsening over time. Formulate your thoughts and questions prior to your appointment, and consider bringing a training log and your training goals. Listen to good advice when you hear it, and if you are told to modify your workout or back off for a period of time, follow that advice! Be active and engaged in your own treatment plan.
Be engaged and ask questions. You want to be your own advocate. Knowledge is power so you know who to trust, when to listen, and when to follow good advice.
And to get you started, here is a quick guide to the various specialties:
LEARN YOUR ABCS
The letters after practitioners’ names can provide insight into the level of training and expertise they have, but only if you know what they mean. Here are some of the most common titles and certifications that runners should look for.
Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
Requires additional education, experience, and testing beyond licensure
Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician
Requires additional education and testing in sports-specific chiropractic treatment
Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians
Requires additional experience and testing above the CCSP level
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Takes the same licensing exams as MDs, but schooling includes additional training in the musculoskeletal system
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
Requires the same licensing as MDs, with special training in human movement, focused on the foot and ankle
Licensed Massage Therapist
Doctor of Medicine
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Physical therapy certification that requires additional experience, training, and testing in treatment of orthopedic injuries
PT (or MPT, DPT)
Physical Therapist (or Masters of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy)
Sports Certified Specialist
Physical therapy certification that requires additional experience, training, and testing in sports-specific injury treatment
To read more of the original article, check out: “You’re Injured, Who can Help?”
Absolute Wellness Center in Eugene, OR offers sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, and massage. Dr. Michael Herb, DC, DACBSP is a Chiropractic Sports Physician, and all of our practitioners are not only athletes themselves, but focus their practices on the needs of athletes. To learn more, give us a call at 541-484-5777.