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The Difference between Colorado Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine

knee physical therapy in colorado

At Axis Sports Medicine, we often hear clients in Eagle and Summit County, Colorado, ask about the difference between physical therapy and sports medicine. And luckily, we are here to help with both!

Whether you’re a dedicated athlete, an outdoor adventurer, or simply someone dealing with day-to-day aches and pains, understanding these distinctions is crucial for your health and well-being. And with so much to see and do in the great state of Colorado, it’s important to stay active and healthy.

Knowing the right course of action can be tricky when you’re hurt. As part of our mountain communities, we understand that all clients have different needs, ranging from daily living activities to weekend warriors and competitive athletes training in our backyard. We listen to our patients and customize our approach to help them meet their personal goals

We are here to help you understand the differences between physical therapy and sports medicine and help you with both.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy, a cornerstone of rehabilitation, focuses on improving mobility and function while reducing pain. In Colorado, physical therapy services are widely sought after for conditions ranging from acute injuries to chronic illnesses. 

By employing a variety of techniques such as manual therapy, exercise programs, and modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation, physical therapists aim to restore your optimal physical function.

You might encounter physical therapy in various settings, from hospitals and outpatient clinics to specialized rehabilitation centers. Some common reasons people seek physical therapy include:

  • Recovery from surgery, such as knee or hip replacement
  • Rehabilitation from injuries like fractures or sprains
  • Management of chronic conditions like arthritis or lower back pain
  • Improvement of balance and coordination
  • Mobility challenges related to aging or neurological disorders

Whether you’re recovering from a skiing accident in the Rocky Mountains or managing the wear and tear of an active Colorado lifestyle, physical therapy offers a versatile approach to healing and maintaining well-being.

What is Sports Medicine?

While physical therapy focuses on a wide spectrum of physical ailments, sports medicine zeroes in on issues specifically related to athletic performance and physical activity. 

Typically, a sports medicine team involves a variety of professionals, including sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, and sometimes even nutritionists and psychologists.

In the athletic hubs of Eagle and Summit County, Colorado, sports medicine is often the go-to for those who are:

  • Looking to optimize athletic performance
  • Recovering from sports-related injuries like concussions or torn ligaments
  • Seeking preventative strategies to avoid injuries
  • Managing chronic conditions that impact physical activity, such as asthma or diabetes, in an athletic context

Sports medicine can be particularly beneficial for those involved in the active Colorado lifestyle—be it competitive sports, mountain biking, skiing, or hiking. The focus here is on rehabilitation and fine-tuning your body to achieve peak performance and prevent future setbacks.

How to Choose the Right Treatment

Deciding between physical therapy and sports medicine can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when you’re eager to return to your active lifestyle in Colorado’s breathtaking outdoors. Just know that no matter what, our Colorado Physical Therapists at Axis Sports Medicine are here to help you heal using either treatment method.

Here’s how you can narrow down your options and choose the service that best aligns with your needs:


If you’re an athlete focused on performance, recovering from a sports-specific injury, or looking to prevent future injuries, sports medicine is likely your best option. 

A sports medicine team can provide you with tailored treatments and training regimens that not only help you heal but also optimize your athletic capabilities. For instance, a sports medicine specialist can help you develop strengthening programs that are tailored to your particular sport or activity and help reduce the risk of future injuries.

Outdoor Enthusiasts

If your love for Colorado’s natural beauty involves activities like hiking, skiing, or mountain biking, you might find yourself between the two fields. Minor injuries or general physical tune-ups could be well managed by a physical therapist. 

However, if you’re dealing with a sports-specific injury or aiming for performance improvements in your chosen outdoor activity, a sports medicine approach might be more suitable.

Everyday Wellness

Physical therapy is often the more appropriate choice for those dealing with a broader range of issues, like chronic pain, post-operative recovery, or age-related mobility challenges. 

Physical therapists are well-equipped to manage a wide variety of physical conditions, helping you improve your day-to-day quality of life. However, if a specific injury or condition is preventing you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities, a physical therapist can provide sports medicine-focused treatments tailored specifically to your needs.

Regardless of why you’re seeking treatment, the most important thing is that you get the help you need to improve your overall quality of life – whether it’s through physical therapy, sports medicine, or a combination of both. Here at Axis Sports Medicine, we can help you look forward to achieving your goals and living life to its fullest.

Tips for Finding Qualified Professionals in Eagle and Summit County, CO

Choosing the right healthcare professional for your physical needs is crucial for recovery and optimal performance. 

Whether you’re leaning toward physical therapy or sports medicine, here are some tips to help you find qualified professionals in Eagle and Summit County, Colorado:

  • Check for Credentials: Always verify that the practitioner is certified or licensed in their respective field. Look for the PT or DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) designation for physical therapists. Sports medicine physical therapists are usually board-certified in Sports Medicine.
  • Read Reviews and Testimonials: Take a look at online reviews or ask for patient testimonials to gauge the quality of care you can expect. Reviews can provide a glimpse into patient satisfaction and the effectiveness of treatment.
  • Ask for Recommendations: Word-of-mouth is often one of the best ways to find a reliable healthcare provider. Ask friends, family, or even your general physician for recommendations. Those who have had similar needs can provide insightful suggestions.
  • Consult Your Insurance: Make sure to check if the healthcare provider accepts your insurance plan. The financial aspect is crucial, especially for long-term treatments.
  • Visit the Facility: If possible, visit the clinic or healthcare center beforehand. The environment, tools, and demeanor of the staff can all provide clues about the quality of care you will receive.
  • Inquire about Specializations: Some practitioners focus on specific areas within physical therapy or sports medicine. If you have a specific issue or goal, finding someone who specializes in that area can be beneficial.
  • Initial Consultation: Don’t hesitate to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your needs and concerns. This meeting can give you a good sense of whether the healthcare provider is a good fit for you.

Take Your Next Step with Axis Sports Medicine

Understanding the differences between physical therapy and sports medicine is the first step to making an informed decision about your health and well-being. But you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. 

We at Axis Sports Medicine are committed to providing expert care tailored to your specific needs, whether you’re an athlete, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone dealing with everyday physical challenges.

If you’re in Eagle or Summit County, Colorado, and are uncertain about which path to choose for your physical health, we invite you to contact us for a personalized consultation. Our team of certified professionals in both physical therapy and sports medicine is here to guide you every step of the way.

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Avon + Edwards are Joining Forces

avon colorado physical therapists

After much thought and evaluation by our team, we have decided to consolidate our Edwards clinic into our Avon clinic location. 

Our staff and resources from our Edwards location will be moved into our Avon clinic on October 31, 2023.

We are excited to be able to offer a wider option of appointment times to accommodate patient needs in one location.

Our Avon location is 142 E Beaver Creek Blvd, Suite 109, next door to Doctors on Call and Kiwi International Delights.