An Overview of Sports Medicine
Playing sports, exercising and living an active lifestyle is healthy and enjoyable. But with increased activity comes the increased risk of sports-related injuries. Everyone who’s active — from the highest-performing athlete to the weekend warrior — will probably suffer an injury at some point.
When an injury does occur, your primary care physician might not be the best person to see. Instead, consider seeking care from a trained sports medicine specialist. Keep reading to learn more about the field of sports medicine.
What Is a Sports Medicine Specialist?
Sports medicine specialists diagnose and treat sports, exercise or activity related injuries. Their primary care goals are to restore function and prevent future injury in people with active lifestyles. They work mainly with children and teenagers who play sports, active adults, professional athletes and people with physically demanding jobs.
Sports medicine isn’t a medical specialty in itself. Providers are board-certified in internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine or pediatrics, and receive additional training in sports medicine techniques. Many sports medicine specialists also have surgical training — usually as orthopedic surgeons.
Sports medicine specialists may be part of a comprehensive team dedicated to caring for sports and exercise related injuries and illnesses. Providers often work closely with physical therapists, athletic trainers, sports psychologists, and nutritionists for an interdisciplinary approach.
Common Injuries and Conditions Treated
Sports medicine covers a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, overuse injuries, and degenerative diseases. Common conditions include:
- Sprains and strains
- Stress fractures
- Knee injuries — ligament tears, meniscus tears
- Shoulder injuries — rotator cuff tears
- Elbow injuries — tennis elbow
- Ankle and foot injuries
- Hand and wrist injuries
- Cartilage injuries
- Back pain
Sports medicine physicians also have the training to treat non-musculoskeletal conditions that are common among athletes and active people. These include concussions and head injuries, eating disorders, and chronic conditions that affect athletic performance (asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure).
Common Treatment Methods
Sports medicine specialists focus on non-operative treatments to reduce pain and restore function after a sports or exercise-related injury. Most sports injuries don’t require surgery. Providers may recommend conservative treatment options, including:
- Physical therapy
Sports medicine providers who are trained as orthopedic surgeons can provide surgery if an injury requires surgical repair. Common sports injuries like ligament or tendon tears and cartilage damage can be repaired with arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique.
In addition to injury management and treatment, sports medicine providers are qualified to perform the following:
- Recommend nutrition, supplements and ergogenic aids for performance issues
- Make “return to play” decisions for injured athletes
- Recommend safe strength training, conditioning and aerobic exercises for optimum performance
- Create an exercise regimen for people who want to exercise more
- Recommend exercises, stretches and training tips to prevent future injury
- Provide education on healthy lifestyle tips
Integrity Spine and Orthopedics Treats Sports Injuries
If you’ve sustained a sports, exercise or activity related injury, Integrity Spine and Orthopedics can help. Our board-certified surgeons can provide orthopedic care, pain management, sports medicine, and surgery services to help you to get back to your active lifestyle.
We have a convenient clinic located in Jacksonville, FL. Please call us or reach out online to schedule your first appointment.
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