Selecting a Sports Physician
When selecting a physician to treat a running injury, it is important to choose a doctor with experience in treating athletes. You cannot rely on finding such a doctor simply by looking in a telephone book. Your best source of information is other runners. Ask around; chances are high that several members of an area running club have needed treatment from a specialist sports doctor.
A specialty running store is another source since the employees there typically are runners. Even if they're not, they should be able to put you in touch with individuals or groups that can help you. Why go to all this trouble? Because it is vital that you choose a medical specialist with both experience and a good reputation among runners.
Should the sports physician be a runner, too?
Whether the doctor is also a runner doesn't matter. Although a doctor-athlete can add to your understanding of the physical conditions that lead to injury, this is not a prerequisite for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The recommendations of knowledgeable people are the most valuable resource for finding a capable sports medicine physician.
A primary care physician can pursue specialized primary care sports medicine training and can obtain a “Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in sports medicine.” For this certificate, the doctor attends a one- to two-year sports medicine fellowship then sits for a rigorous examination. A physician who completes an orthopedic surgery residency may also do a surgical sports medicine fellowship, which lasts one to two additional years and become “board certified” in sports medicine.
Two organizations grant “board certification” and “certificate of added qualifications” certifications: the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.
Sports medicine certifications can also be obtained by other physician professional organizations. The American Board of Family Medicine administers an examination that is then used for sports certification by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Board of Internal Medicine.
To locate a primary care sports medicine doctor in your area, you can contact the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) or the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM).