If you have more than one doctor, which many people do especially athletes then it is often confusing exactly which doctor you should see. However, if you follow some simple guidelines you should find the decision much easier. Remember, seeing a doctor is a good idea in the event of an injury, however emergencies are usually best treated in an emergency room with follow up through your normal doctor.
You should first consider why you want to go to the doctor. If you have a need rather than just simply a check up then consider exactly what is needed. If you need a simple work up or even a flu shot then seeing a standard family practitioner is usually much easier and faster. However, if you have a sports related injury then it is best to see a sports medicine doctor.
As part of your sports medicine team, you are likely to have numerous doctors all working together with a physical therapist, primary doctor and various other professionals including often a surgeon. Your first stop whenever seeing a sports medicine doctor should always be to your primary physician. After visiting with them, they can determine based off your needs exactly whom you should be referred to see next. This also often has the benefit of allowing some treatment options to get started in the meantime, rather than being forced to wait until the specialist can see you.
However, it is important to note that if you only see a sports medicine doctor and do not have a standard internal medicine or family physician that you should always see your sports medicine doctor unless they recommend you see someone else. With sports medicine doctors covering a large gamut of specialties it is possible to only use sports medicine doctors if preferred.
If you are running a fever, or else have a rash that has appeared, the best doctor to often see is your primary care physician. If however, you have been experiencing leg pain then it is best to see the sports medicine doctor. Anytime you have a problem or injury that has resulted because of sports, or can impact sports it is best to see a sports medicine doctor.
In the event that you have a pressing issue that needs immediate treatment, often the decision over which doctor to see becomes blurred. This is because many times doctors have very long waits before being able to secure an appointment. If you discover that this is your problem, you best bet is to check with both doctors and see who can fit you in sooner. If neither doctor is able to see you fast enough, you may be best to see the emergency room in your area and schedule a follow up visit. While not everyone is pleased with seeing an emergency room rather than their normal doctor it is a necessary action at times where there are serious complications or in the event of an emergency.
While emergencies may mandate the usage of the emergency room, appointments that are not emergencies should be scheduled with the appropriate doctor to ensure that you receive the best care possible. For example, if you are using a sports medicine doctor and also an internal medicine doctor you should schedule your normal yearly check ups with your internal medicine doctor, as well as your yearly flu shot. However, if you are looking into creating a new exercise program or even starting a new sport then a visit to your sports medicine doctor is most appropriate.
As the number of sports medicine doctors offering varying specialties continues to increase the decision over which doctor to choose for visits is likely to become even more confusing, however you are not alone and by carefully considering the purpose of the visit, you should be able to easily determine which doctor is the best choice for your individual needs.