If you have been injured from playing sports, exercising, or even engaging in any type of physical activity, you may benefit from visiting a sports medicine doctor. Sports medicine doctors are not just for athletes, even though the name may sound misleading. Sports medicine physicians specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries related to physical activity from everything such as osteoarthritis to tendinitis.
Sports Medicine Doctor’s Responsibilities
Sports medicine physicians are primary care doctors who are specifically trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries related to playing sports as well as other kinds of orthopedic injuries. Patients that typically visit sports medicine doctors are those who are active and interested in improving their overall health. Many older patients who are trying to be active but cannot due to pain are also seen by sports medicine doctors.
Sports medicine physicians act as a stepping stone between a primary care doctor and an orthopedic surgeon. This simply means that they are more experienced than a primary care doctor who typically handles issues related to metabolic, bone, or musculoskeletal issues. They also have a lot of experience in treating both acute and chronic injuries as well as conditions that don’t require surgery.
Acute injuries typically occur suddenly, often while engaging in exercise or sports. Chronic injuries tend to occur over time and result from overuse such as training too long or too hard. Sports medicine physicians will treat your injuries and explain how to correctly care for your injury and remain in shape at the same time. However, if your injury does require you to undergo surgery, sports medicine doctors know how to quickly identify your condition and refer you to a surgeon.
Many sports medicine doctors work in orthopedic practices. Their main goal is to help you avoid surgery. However, if you do need surgery, they know how to best help your situation. For instance, there are some orthopedic surgeons who specifically specialize in knee replacement surgery while others have a specialty in shoulder surgery.
Additionally, sports medicine physicians know the imaging and tests that surgeons will need prior to surgery so they will be sure to have these completed before you go and see the surgeon.
Common Injuries Treated by Sports Medicine Doctors
The most common injuries treated by a sports medicine doctor are:
- Rotator cuff tear- A torn rotator cuff is an injury that affects the group of tendons and muscles that support the joints of the shoulder. It typically affects people who perform repeated overhead motions.
- Achilles tendon rupture- If extreme pressure is placed on the back of the lower leg, the Achilles tendon may rupture, or tear. Patients may feel a sudden sharp pain in the heel area.
- Ankle Sprain- A sprained ankle is a ligament injury that targets the bones of the ankle. It normally occurs when a person twists their ankle awkwardly and severely.
Sports Medicine Doctors’ Training
Following medical school, sports medicine doctors will undergo a primary care residency. The most common residencies are internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, or emergency medicine.
Following their residencies, sports medicine doctors will complete an accredited fellowship in sports medicine. Finally, they will be certified as a primary care sports medicine doctor.