For your convenience, commonly asked questions are answered right here. Not finding what you want? Reach out directly through our Contact Us page.
Q: How can seeing a sports medicine doctor help me?
A: If you’ve injured yourself while playing sports or exercising, or if you have pain that limits you from activity, a sports medicine doctor can help you. They are trained to assess and diagnose most musculoskeletal injuries and recommend non-surgical treatment options that include home exercises, physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage or chiropractic treatment. They are also trained to do therapeutic injections of most joints. Sport medicine doctors can often help your muscle or joint pain resolve, so you do not have to be seen by a surgeon. If you had an MRI or ultrasound that demonstrates a tear, seeing a sports medicine doctor can be helpful because not all tears require surgery; they are trained to evaluate which patients may require a surgical opinion and who is likely to succeed with conservative management of their pain or injury.
Q: How do I make an appointment?
A: In order to see one of our sports medicine doctors you require a referral from another health care provider. We accept referrals from physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors or podiatrists. Please ensure that the referral letter includes copies of all pertinent imaging results (x-rays, ultrasound and MRI). Please understand that in order to see patients quickly we can only assess 1 joint per visit (or 2 of the same joint if relevant). If you have more than one joint that requires assessment, please plan to book a separate visit for each joint; another referral may be required.
Q: What kind of doctor am I seeing?
A: You will be seeing a sport and exercise medicine specialist, a medical doctor who was trained as a family doctor first and then undergone extensive additional training in sports and exercise related injury and illness. They are NOT physiotherapists, surgeons or rheumatologists (doctors trained in arthritis conditions).
Q: I thought this was a physiotherapy clinic? Will I be seeing a physiotherapist?
A: Southland Sport Medicine Clinic is located within the Lifemark Physiotherapy clinic, but you will be seeing one of the sport medicine doctors for your consultation. Physiotherapy treatment in our clinic is also available for our patients and this can be arranged, if required, by making an appointment with the physiotherapy staff at the front reception desk.
Q: What should I expect during the consultation?
A: This is a teaching clinic therefore a senior medical student or resident doctor may see you first. They will ask you detailed information about your injury or illness, your past medical or surgical history, what medications or supplements you are currently using, any allergies that you have, and other relevant medical information. They will then perform an appropriate physical examination of the affected part of your body, as well as an examination of other related body parts if necessary. Any tests, such as X-rays, MRI, Ultrasound and blood work, that you have had done will be reviewed. After the above clinical evaluation has been completed, the doctor will discuss the diagnosis in detail with you. A treatment plan will then be suggested or further tests may be ordered.
Treatment recommendations may include:
- Exercise therapy and activity advice
- Physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, etc.
- Medications or supplements
- Injection therapy
- Referral to another specialist or surgeon for further evaluation
At the end of the consultation the doctor will inform you of whether follow-up is required, and if so, when it should occur.
Q: Do I have to pay for the consultation or follow-up?
A: If you have a valid provincial health care card you will not be charged for any of your visits, we are paid by Alberta Health Care. Unfortunately, if you have Quebec Health Insurance, you will have to pay upfront for the consultations and for any tests; Quebec is the only province whose health care is not reciprocal with the rest of Canada. If you do not have valid Canadian health care, you will have to pay upfront for the consultation and follow-up and for all medical tests. Any forms or paperwork requested from a third party (work, insurance, etc.) may have an additional fee as well. Vasectomies are covered by health care however, circumcisions are not covered by health care and there is a $400.00 fee for this procedure.
Q: How long will the appointment take?
A: New consultations can take from 20-60 minutes, and follow-up appointments will take 15-20 minutes. Please note the doctor does occasionally run late due to the fact that complex medical problems can take longer than expected to properly and thoroughly evaluate.
Q: Do our physicians assess all patients?
A: We generally do not see patients who have WCB injuries, nor patients who are involved in litigation following a motor vehicle accident.
Q: What happens if I miss an appointment?
A: If you are unable to attend your appointment please cancel at least 24 hours in advance so another patient can be booked in your place. You may be charged a no-show fee if your appointment is not canceled in advance (please refer to our clinic “Policy”).
Q: The MRI that my doctor ordered demonstrated a meniscal tear in my knee. Why aren’t you referring me to see a surgeon?
A: Not all meniscal tears require surgical intervention and meniscal tears are often a normal finding when you have Osteoarthritis in your knee. As your knee joint degenerates the meniscus develops degenerative tears that are always seen on MRI. Surgery is only required if the meniscal tear causes your knee to lock – locking is the inability to extend your knee (catching is not locking). In most other situations this is treated with exercise to strengthen your hip and knee, stretches to improve your flexibility, weight loss when required and occasionally injections of either cortisone or Hyaluronic Acid (Durolane, Monovisc, Synvisc – please refer to the PDF’s in the education section of this website). Surgery is not always helpful, can cause progression of osteoarthritis and usually does not take away the pain associated with a meniscal tear for more than 3-6 months, if at all.
Q: The ultrasound my doctor ordered demonstrated a tear of the rotator cuff in my shoulder. Why aren’t you sending me to a surgeon?
A: Rotator cuff tears can be a normal finding on ultrasound once we reach 50 years of age and most do NOT require surgery. The initial treatment for all cuff tears is either home-based exercises or physiotherapy. Occasionally a cortisone injection will be recommended for pain control if you are unable to exercise due to pain. Surgery is only considered if you have an acute, traumatic rupture of the rotator cuff or if your shoulder pain or weakness persists despite failing a 3-6 month rehabilitation program and a cortisone injection. Most patients over 70 have complete, chronic rotator cuff tears and do not require surgery.
Q: I have been referred for physiotherapy. Is this covered by provincial health care?
A: Physiotherapy is no longer covered by provincial health care plans, unless you have had surgery or a fracture, or fall under low income (Government Assistance). If you have private health insurance, you may be entitled to some physiotherapy coverage. If coverage is an issue we can provide you with a home-based exercise program in most situations.
Q: Why aren’t you booking me for an MRI?
A: In most cases, we do not need an MRI to accurately diagnose and treat your joint pain or dysfunction. Additionally, an MRI report will often demonstrate “abnormalities” that have nothing to do with why your joint is sore. Since we treat patients and not test results these findings usually only confuse the picture and they are very costly to our health care system. We only order an MRI when it is required for clinical decision making.
Q: My doctor referred me to see you so you could get me into a surgeon faster. How quickly will I get in? What about going to Banff?
A: We do not see our role as simply getting you in to see a surgeon faster; in fact, we can not! We will always do our best to help you avoid surgery. If we are not successful, and a referral to a surgeon is required, you are still likely to wait 6-18 months before being seen for an initial consultation. If the surgeon thinks that surgical intervention is required, you will then wait for an OR date; this can be several more weeks or months. The wait to see a surgeon in Banff is just as long, or longer, unless you live in the Bow Valley corridor.
Q: What if I need to have an injection?
A: If you need to have a cortisone injection a supply may be provided for you. If it is, you will be given a prescription to replace the dose that was injected. Most benefit plans cover the cost of cortisone (Alberta Health Care does not). This way you won’t have to book another appointment just to have an injection. Drs. Mullin and Patel will typically give you a cortisone injection at your appointment for a small fee; a receipt will be provided. If you do not have insurance discuss this with us; cortisone is not very expensive. Other injectables, such as Hyaluronic Acid (Synvisc, Durolane, Monovisc) may be covered if you have private insurance (a D.I.N. number may be required and can be provided to you by the front staff). Prices for these products vary; we sell them at this clinic at a very fair price.