October 02, 2017

What is a Sports Medicine Physician?

Sports Medicine

You may not know this, but almost 90% of sports-related injuries don’t require surgery. Historically, orthopedic surgeons would manage most of these injuries until about 25 years ago, when primary care sports medicine or family medicine sports medicine became a distinct specialty.

What is Sports Medicine?

Today, sports medicine physicians work closely with primary care and orthopedic physicians, but specialize exclusively in the non-surgical treatment of sports-related injuries. They have specialized skills in helping to restore function so that injured patients can get back to the activities they enjoy quickly. Sports medicine doctors also focus on providing information and recommendations that help people avoid injury.

Sports Medicine Physicians

Most sports medicine physicians are certified in another area such as emergency medicine, internal medicine or family medicine. While their focus isn’t surgery, some sports physicians do have surgical training. Sports medicine doctors may specialize in working with children and teens, as their injury risks and treatment requirements are different than those of adults, who may be seen by a primary care sports medicine physician.

What Does a Sports Medicine Physician Do?

Why might you need to visit a sports medicine physician? There are many issues related to physical activity that could require sports medicine services, including:

  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Knee injuries including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus injuries
  • Ankle and foot injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Cysts and tumors on bones
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hand, wrist and elbow injuries
  • Bursitis
  • Compartment syndromes
  • Bone dislocations
  • Hamstring injuries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Shoulder injuries including separations and rotator cuff injuries

When to See a Sports Medicine Doctor

If you or your child suffers a significant sports injury, you should first get treatment at an urgent care or emergency room and wait to see a sports physician. You can tell that an injury needs prompt attention you have:

  • Severe pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the injured limb
  • Numbness
  • Swelling

Once you have the issue assessed and stabilized, a sports medicine doctor can provide guidance on how to further treat and recover from the injury. This can include immobilization, pain relievers, therapy, and other treatments. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Sports Medicine Specialists at Baptist Health

All of our sports medicine specialists at Baptist Health have a primary care background – most in family medicine, but others in internal medicine and pediatrics. Most of us completed a fellowship in sports medicine, but all of us have passed an additional exam to be certified in sports medicine.

We enjoy the art of a good physical exam and treating these injuries non-operatively whether with boots, crutches, splints or even injections. Occasionally, we need to get patients better with the help of athletic trainers, physical therapists or nutritionists, and we can expedite referrals to orthopedists if needed.

Ideally, we not only take care of athletes or sports teams but also any active individual who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, whether it’s an ankle sprain, concussion, stress fracture, tendinopathy or even osteoarthritis, we’re well prepared to treat these conditions and more.


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