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What is Sports Medicine?

Whether you’re a teen athlete, a soccer mom, or an adult weekend warrior, it’s good to have an understanding of sports medicine. After all, you never know when you or your child might need it.

As its name implies, sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with both physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of sports and exercise-related injuries.

As you might imagine, sports medicine health care providers have special training, even though sports medicine is not considered a medical specialty in itself. Generally, these physicians are board-certified in internal medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, or any other specialty, and have received additional training that enables them to help restore function to injured patients as quickly as possible.

Sports medicine providers also have knowledge about the prevention of illness and injury in physically active people. Not only do they work with professional athletes, but also treat children and teenagers involved in sports, as well as adults who exercise for personal fitness. In addition, sports medicine providers treat those who have physically demanding occupations, such as construction workers, mechanics, first responders, dancers, and more.

Many, though not all, sports medicine health care providers have surgical training, practicing as orthopedic surgeons. However, sports medicine also relies on the professional expertise of other health care providers. These include:

·       Physical therapists, who help patients rehabilitate and recover from their sports and exercise-related injuries

·       Certified athletic trainers, who provide the rehabilitative exercise routines that help patients regain their strength and, also, develop conditioning programs to help patients prevent future injury

·       Nutritionists, who provide dietary advice and assist those who need to lose or gain weight in order to improve their physical functioning

Among the common injuries that a sports medicine health care provider would treat include:

·       A sprained ankle

·       Knee and shoulder injuries

·       Fractures

·      Tendonitis (tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, swimmer’s shoulder)

·       Exercise-induced asthma

·       Cartilage injuries

·       Concussions

·       Heat-related illness (cramps, exhaustion, fainting spells, heat stroke)

When to consult a sports medicine specialist

If you or your child is seriously injured while exercising or participating in a sports activity, it might be best to seek immediate treatment at a nearby emergency room depending on the severity of the injury. Symptoms of a significant injury include major pain, swelling, numbness, and/or the inability to place weight on the injured area.

If none of these symptoms are apparent, rest, icing, compression, and elevation (RICE treatment) may help alleviate your pain. If the injury doesn’t heal soon after, call your health care provider for guidance and/or referral to a sports medicine specialist.

If you are diagnosed with a moderate to severe sports injury, treatment may include keeping the injured area immobilized with a cast or sling. In more severe cases involving torn tissue or misaligned bones, a surgical procedure may be needed, although most sport injuries do not require surgery.

The Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs regularly treats injuries to bones and joints, providing the best of care. If you’ve sustained a sports injury, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition and explain your treatment options. Call us at (719) 623-1050 today for an appointment.