For Parents

For Parents: Call the Family Doctor? Or Is It Better to Seek Out a Sports Medicine Specialist?

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Sprained ankles, sore feet, pulled muscles. Dance injuries are, unfortunately, going to happen. While some minor bumps and bruises can be resolved at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation, other more serious aches or pains may warrant a trip to a doctor. But can your primary care doc help or do you need a sports medicine physician?

Donald J. Rose, sports medicine physician, orthopedist surgeon and founding director of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, says your family practitioner is a good first option. But if the injury is acute, "meaning there's pain, swelling, the dancer can't walk, felt a pop in her knee or something to that effect, go directly to a sports medicine physician if possible, because the injury might require that anyway."

Sports medicine physicians know movement and modifications and can fine-tune a treatment plan specifically for a dancer. "That said, if seeing one isn't an option, certainly start with a family practitioner," says Dr. Rose. "But if things aren't improving over a few weeks with their recommendations, talk to them about getting a referral. If you're unhappy or feel that they don't understand dance or movement, don't hesitate to seek a second opinion."

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