What type of doctor should you go to when your back is injured from sports?

Nearly all sports involve activity that puts stress on the back and spine. Because of this, back injuries are extremely common among athletes, from runners to football players. If a sudden accident during a game or the repetitive stress training puts on your body invokes pain, you should seek treatment right away. Ignoring back pain and trying to play through it will likely worsen the injury and could leave you with a permanent back problem.

What back doctors treat sports injuries?

The type of back doctor you should see for treatment depends on the nature of your injury. If you are in excruciating pain following an injury, or you are experiencing incontinence, paralysis or extreme muscle weakness in conjunction with your back pain, you should seek emergency medical attention right away by dialing 911. Otherwise, you should start your treatment journey by visiting your primary care physician. He or she will be able to treat you or help you find the specialist best fit to treat your injury, which could be a:

  • Physiatrist. Physiatrists commonly see patients with both chronic and sudden sports injuries. Their practice of whole-body healing and rehabilitation helps athletes regain functionality and improve their quality of life following an accident or overuse of a muscle.
  • Orthopedic doctor. Injuries caused by falls, collisions and similar accidents such as fractures, dislocations, sprains and strains, are most commonly treated by orthopedic doctors, who specialize in the musculoskeletal system.
  • Neurologists. Back injuries that damage the nerves, brain or spinal cord are typically addressed by a neurologist. If your sports injury has caused a pinched nerve or similar problem, you will likely see a neurologist.

Many sports-related back injuries can be successfully treated using nonsurgical methods. These typically include hot and/or cold therapy, pain medication, assistive devices and physical therapy, for example. However, there are times when conservative treatment is not enough. If this is the case for you, contact Laser Spine Institute. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, which offers many benefits, including shorter recovery times, when compared to traditional open back surgery.^ To determine whether you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, we would be happy to provide a free MRI review.*