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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Which health professional is best to diagnose a sports injury?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Neil Synnott

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    I am qualified as a PHYSIOTHERAPIST and ACCREDITED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST.I primarily use the McKENZIE METHOD for assessment and management of musculoskeletal pain disorders. The McKENZIE … View Profile

    Hi all sportspeople or exercise enthusiasts,

    The best professions to diagnose a sports injury are a physiotherapist (specialising in musculoskeletal or sport injuries) and a sports and exercise medicine doctor (aka sports doctor). 

    Both of these professions specialise in the diagnosis and appropriate management of sports related injuries. Your first port of call would be the physiotherapist as most injuries are ‘simple’ and require some form of manual therapies (eg. massage) and exercise therapies. If the injury is more complex or not progressing as expected, your physiotherapist can refer you to a sports and exercise doctor who specialises in your type of injury.

    Happy exercising!

    Regards, Neil

  • Dr Peter Dun


    Rehab - Sports - X-Ray - Standing MRI - Second Opinions. We provide strategies for chronic and more complex function problems to help restore active … View Profile

    In addition to sports physiotherapists and sports medical practitioners who are able to diagnose sports injuries, quite a number of chiropractors have a keen interest in sports injury management, prevention and enhancing performance. While these sports chiropractors look after individual athletes and those who enjoy recreational sport, they may also work with various sports teams from local to elite level as part of the overall healthcare team.

  • Joel Laing


    I am a McKenzie Method specialised physiotherapist, with a Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy. Using the McKenzie Method I predominantly treat low back and … View Profile

    Typically these injuries are best assessed and treated by either a Sports Physician (a doctor trained specifically in musculoskeletal injuries) or someone like a physiotherapist or osteopath.
    Generally seeing a physiotherapist for example would be ideal as opposed to going to a Sports Physician first. 
    This is as it is cheaper, and many such allied health professionals can confidently diagnose your problem and give you specific advice regarding treatment and management of your issue.
    Sports Physicians for example are usually the next step, for people not responding who require further tests (like MRI/ultrasound) but usually a physiotherapist or similar health professional can refer you on as required. 
    The other advantage is that someone like a physiotherapist will give you the rehabilitation advice and treatment. The role of the sports Doc is less about these aspects and more about diagnosis should you fail to make progess or require more invasive options like surgery/injections. 

  • Special interest include; Wellnes,nutrition, physical exercise, headaches and sports injuries. My aim is to improve the wellness and health of all my clients. View Profile

    A great practitioner whether it be a sports physicians, physiotherapist or chiropractor are all great choices, should be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend an appropriate intervention. One thing when approaching a sports injury is to remember injuries are often a result of poor technique or muscle imbalance. Its important that no matter who you see that they understand and address your injury and the physical requirements for your sport exericses demands.

  • Tim Lathlean

    Exercise Physiologist

    A motivated and proactive postgraduate student at Monash University majoring in sports injury surveillance, applied sports psychology and sports science. Tim also works in clinical … View Profile

    A sports and exercise medicine (SEM) physician or sports physiotherapist are two appropriate professional groups that can diagnose sports injuries.

    Post diagnosis a team of rehab specialists, including an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) and/or team strength and conditioning staff can help the PT/sports doc with an individualised plan to return to training and competition.

    In this setting, collaboration and a team of sports medical staff would be optimal to ensure timely and functional return to play.

  • Graduated in 1997 from the Uni of Melbourne and have studied extensively the problem shoulder. Also have interests in knee, foot and ankle, and wrist … View Profile

    I agree with Joel Laing answer.  A physiotherapist is an ideal option for accurate diagnosis and then management of your injury.  If the condition doesn't improve then a sports doctor or orthopaedic specialist would be the next step.

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