What is a Sports Medicine Specialist?
A physician with specialized training in the treatment, management and prevention of illness and injury. The Sports Medicine Specialist helps patients maximize function and minimize disability and time away from sports, work, or school.
He or she is a physician who:
- Is board certified in Family medicine, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, or Physical Medicine I Rehabilitation
- Has obtained additional training in Sports Medicine through one of the accredited fellowship programs in Sports Medicine
- Has passed a national Sports Medicine certification
- Holds a certification of added qualification in sports medicine
- Is a leader of a Sports Medicine team which also may include specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and the athletes
What is the difference between a sports medicine specialists and an orthopaedic surgeon?
Both are well trained in musculoskeletal medicine. Sports Medicine Specialists specialize in the non-operative musculoskeletal conditions. Approximately 90% of all sports’ injuries are non-surgical. The Sports medicine Specialists can maximize non-operative treatment, guide appropriate referrals to physical and occupational therapies, and if necessary expedite referrals to an orthopedic/sports surgeon.
Common examples of musculoskeletal problems include:
- Acute injuries (such as ankle sprains, muscle strains, knee and shoulder injuries, and fractures)
- Overuse injuries (such as rotator cuff and other forms of tendinopathies, stress fractures)
- Medical and injection therapies for osteoarthritis
Sports Medicine Specialists have received additional training in the non-musculoskeletal aspects of sports medicine. Common examples of these include:
- Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) and other head injuries
- Athletes with chronic or acute illness (such as infectious mononucleosis, or asthma)
- Nutrition, supplements, ergogenic aids, and performance issues
- Injury prevention
- “Return to play” decisions on the sick or injured athlete
- Recommendations on safe strength training and conditioning exercises
- Healthy lifestyle promotion
Most Sports medicine Specialists also serve as Team Physicians for local and/or national teams and clubs. These Physicians must fulfill published qualifications with the following responsibilities:
- Pre-participation physical examination
- Injury assessment and management
- Care of sports-related and general medical needs of athletes
- Special populations (geriatric, diabetes, women, youth, etc.)
- Education and counseling on illness and injury prevention
- Coordinating care with other members of the sports medicine team to include athletic trainers, physical therapist, personnel physicians, other
- medical and surgical specialties, and other ancillary personnel of specialty care and rehabilitation
Do Sports Medicine Specialists only treat competitive athletes?
No, Sports Medicine Specialists are ideal physicians for the non-athlete as well, and are excellent resources for the individual who wishes to become active or begin an exercise program. For the “weekend warrior” or the “industrial athlete” who experiences an injury, the same expertise used for the competitive athlete can be applied to return the individual.