Sports Medicine at Sawtooth Orthopedics

Sports medicine, also known as sport and exercise medicine (SEM), focuses on the prevention of injuries.

Dr Tony completed his sports medicine and shoulder fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of Dr. Freddie Fu and Dr. Christopher Harner. He then honed his skills as the assistant team physician for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team and the Pittsburgh Penguins professional hockey team. As lead physician here at Sawtooth Orthopedics, doctor Buoncristiani is dedicated to the prevention of injuries often caused by improper training or technique during sports and exercise.

Our office focuses primarily on preventative measures such as activity paired conditioning and specific injury prevention, as well as treatments such as osteopathic manipulation, rehabilitation, or injections. Our clinic treats both athletes and non-athletes with a number of conditions, one of which is back pain due to strain and injury placed on the back from various sports including bicycling, weight lifting, running, skiing and golf.


  • Concussion – caused by severe head injury where the brain moves violently within the skull so that brain cells all fire at once, much like a seizure
  • Muscle cramps – a sudden tight, intense pain caused by a muscle locked in spasm. Muscle cramps are also recognized as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax
  • ACL sprains – The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament involved in knee stabilization. An ACL rupture can occur when the foot is planted and the knee twists to change direction.
  • ACL tears – The anterior cruciate ligament; one of four major knee ligament necessary for comfortable knee movement, tears, causing major pain and causes the knee to “give out”. The knee ACL can tear for a number of reasons.
  • Ankle sprain – The ligaments that hold the ankle bones in place can easily be overstretched.
  • Shin splints – The tissue that attaches the muscles of your lower leg to the shin bone may be pulling away from the bone, or it may be inflamed from overuse.
  • Muscle strains – tears in muscle that cause pain and or loss of function.
Many Physicians call themselves sports medicine specialists, but in the U.S., sports medicine is not a recognized training specialty. Some doctors, like Dr. Tony, have gained special qualifications in sports medicine after completing their primary residency specialty.
Sports medicine doctors fall into two groups: non-surgical primary care and orthopedic surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons, as a rule, are typically more qualified to practice sports medicine due to their intimate and up-to-date knowledge of human mechanics and treatments.
To become a qualified sports medicine doctor, most apply for a 1-2 year sports medicine fellowship program. During this fellowship, much time is spent learning more about sports injuries. Both non-surgical and surgical groups spend considerable time in orthopedic surgeons’ offices, as well as assisting in orthopedic surgery. This is why orthopedic doctors have the edge. Additional blocks of time are typically spent being a team doctor for a local high school and/or college, gaining experience in the training room as well as on the field. Dr. Tony, in his typical immersive fashion, spent considerable time as assistant team physician for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team and the Pittsburgh Penguins professional hockey team.

Orthopedic surgeons are considered qualified and therefore do not have additional requirements. Primary care doctors must obtain a “Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine.” The testing includes difficult questions covering the medical and musculoskeletal aspects of sports medicine.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists. Both offer “certificates of added qualifications”.

Not anymore. Since 1999, a fellowship is required to even be eligible for the examination.

Technically yes. Some very good family doctors and orthopedic surgeons who have not gone through the rigorous training are able to treat your sports injury. However, the extra training that a sports medicine fellowship provides makes someone like Dr. Tony a very wise choice.
Since Dr. Tony’s primary focus is sports injuries, we believe you should see us first so we can evaluate the severity of your injury and establish the proper care for your recovery as soon as possible. If your injury will require surgery we can give you the proper advice on when you should have your surgery, and equally as important, how you should properly rehabilitate afterwards.
In the Wood River Valley, pretty much everyone knows someone that has been to a sports medicine doctor and, most likely, an orthopedic surgeon. You should choose a doctor that first and foremost has a high degree of ability and knowledge. One who truly cares for his or her patients well-being and understands the quality of life and lifestyle they desire. At Sawtooth Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. Tony has an untarnished reputation for delivering the highest standard of treatments, both surgical and non-surgical.