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Richard Cunningham, MD

Knee & Shoulder
Specialties Orthopaedics
Contact (970) 476-7220
Languages English


Medical School: University of Washington School of Medicine
Residency: University of Utah School of Medicine
Fellowship: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Board Certification: American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


Specialty: Complex Knee and Shoulder Surgery, ACL Reconstruction, ACL Reconstruction, meniscus repair, rotator cuff repair, partial knee replacement. 
Dr. Cunningham is the busiest and longest-tenured sports medicine surgeon at Vail-Summit Orthopedics & Neurosurgery. He is a US Ski Team Physician and treats professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, helping all athletes get back to their sport and the activities they enjoy. He specializes in arthroscopic surgeries of the knee and shoulder, in which he repairs complex problems in these joints with minimally invasive techniques. He is one of the busiest ACL surgeons in the Vail Valley. He pioneered ACL repair surgery in the mountains. In this technique, small instruments and anchors are used to arthroscopically repair and save a torn ACL ligament instead of always completely removing the damaged ligament and reconstructing it with a tendon graft. This groundbreaking ACL repair technique allows a patient to save their original ACL, lose less muscle mass as there is less pain and swelling with surgery, and return to sports in half the time of a normal ACL reconstruction surgery.

Dr. Cunningham is conservative and treats patients without surgery whenever possible. However, if you need surgery, know that you are in great hands. Dr. Cunningham is the sports medicine surgeon that locals and out-of-town guests know and seek out, given his great outcomes and kind and compassionate bedside manner. 

After his orthopedic residency, Dr. Cunningham completed a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, which is regarded by orthopaedists as one of the best sports medicine programs in the country. There he worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dr. Cunningham then joined Vail-Summit Orthopedics in 2003. Dr. Cunningham was drawn to this practice given the world-class care that was being provided here in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. 

Dr. Cunningham served as the Chief of Surgery at Vail Valley Medical Center for eight years. His physician colleagues at Vail Valley Medical Center awarded him the Clinical Excellence Award for outstanding orthopedic work using the latest surgical techniques. 

In addition to the US Ski Team, Dr. Cunningham volunteers his time in the community. He gives orthopedic lectures before every ski season to local primary care physicians and physical therapists. He speaks with Ski Patrollers at our ski resorts every year about how to treat various orthopedic fractures and joint injuries. He is the team physician at Vail Christian High school. He provides free high school student physicals before the start of every school year for area high school students. When not working or volunteering, Dr. Cunningham can be found on the sidelines of his kid’s soccer or volleyball games, riding his mountain bike or road bike in the warmer months, or skiing with his kids in the winter months.