Sports Medicine Frequently Asked Questions
What is a sports medicine specialist?
A sports medicine specialist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including your bones, muscles, and joints. Unlike an orthopedic surgeon who treats musculoskeletal system disorders, sports medicine specialists focus on more conservative and non-operative therapies to treat and prevent injuries.
Despite its name, sports medicine specialists treat a wide variety of conditions that affect various people. Some of the common conditions sports medicine specialists treat include:
A sports medicine specialist’s goal is to help you prevent and recover from injury without needing an operation. Some of the procedures they perform include:
- exercise counseling for patients who want to improve their fitness
- lifestyle counseling, which includes nutrition, supplements, ergogenic aids, and more
- prescribing medications to reduce swelling and pain
- safe strength training and other strength-building exercises
- splints used to stabilize injured areas
- range of motion, stretching, and mobility exercises
- treatments that stimulate healing, such as massage, sound wave, heat and cold, and electric
In the event surgery is necessary, a sports medicine specialist can refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.
Some of the most common reasons for speaking with a sports medicine specialist include treatment for acute and chronic sports injuries.
Acute sports injuries happen suddenly, often when exercising, playing a sport, or completing compound movement activities. Symptoms of acute injuries include:
- a bone or joint that appears out of place
- muscle weakness or loss of movement
- sudden pain
Chronic sports injuries worsen and develop through repetition and time, usually from regularly performing an activity or training too hard. Symptoms of chronic injuries include:
- pain or a dull ache that persists even when you rest
- swelling that does not go away
- tenderness and pain when moving or exercising