Any medical condition that does not improve with appropriate measures while compromising daily activities requires attention. Making the right choice of physician, whether family practice doctor or specialist, is an important decision in dealing with any illness or injury.
Participating in sports often causes aches and pains or an injury that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. A sports medicine specialist has medical education and training in family, internal, emergency, or rehabilitation medicine, and has pursued additional sports medicine training.
Sports medicine specialists center their therapies on bone, joint, and muscle care. They understand an athlete’s goals and focus on improving athletic performance, recovery from injury, maintaining peak physical fitness, and preventing future injuries. A sports medicine specialist can be a physician, surgeon, or another type of specialist, like a nutritionist or physical therapist. Primary care sports medicine physicians are specially trained for the total care of athletes and active individuals.
Who Should See a Sports Medicine Specialist
People injured while playing sports may see their family practice doctor to have an injury evaluated. At this point, their treatment approach will probably be the same as might be provided by a sports medicine specialist: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories if needed.
If there is no improvement within a couple weeks, an MRI may be ordered for further evaluation. At this point, you may be referred to a specialist, for their expertise in determining the most appropriate treatment based on the specifics of the injury.
Sports medicine specialists treat acute and chronic injuries – and focus on helping patients prevent future injuries while enhancing their athletic performance through safe strength training, conditioning exercises, and workouts. They evaluate the need for surgery and apply sports psychology principles and therapies.
Injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:
- Joint injuries
- Sprains and Strains
- Overuse and Training Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Care provided by these specialists may include preseason examinations and “return to play” recommendations as a part of a rehabilitation plan.
Types of Sports Medicine Specialists
There are a wide variety of sports medicine specialists available to treat a variety of concerns, including:
Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. They help decide which injuries require specialist attention and can make necessary referrals.
Orthopedists & Orthopedic Surgeons focus on bone and joint problems. They have several years of residency and fellowships beyond their internships. Approximately 90 percent of sports injuries are nonsurgical in nature. When surgery is required, orthopedic surgeons specialize in areas such as back surgery, joint replacement, and ACL repairs.
Physical Therapists treat injuries based on a clinical diagnosis. They often specialize in sports medicine and orthopedics. They integrate training, rehabilitation and injury recovery.
Podiatrists are clinicians with residency training focused on musculoskeletal problems exclusively below the knee. Their clients are runners, joggers, or sports people who often injure their feet or ankles. Biomechanical analysis, normal gait assessment, and prescribing orthotics are their other areas of expertise.
Improving with Sports Medicine
Whether you’re a novice to athletics or want to get to the next performance level, a sports medicine specialist can formulate a comprehensive blueprint that can take you to the peak of athletic performance.
The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence has served as official doctors for the U.S. Olympic team, as well as nonprofessional sports patients. For award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment, visit The Center online at www.ccoe.us or call (719) 623-1050.