Sports Medicine Doctors are doctors who specialize in the nonoperative treatment and prevention of sports-related conditions and injuries. Sports medicine doctors must be medical doctors, meaning they have an M.D., or they may be doctors of osteopathic medicine, meaning they have a D.O. Both degree titles require the same certifications and and post-medical school training to specialize in sports medicine.
After completing medical school as either , doctors who aim to become Sports Medicine Doctors must graduate from an orthopedic surgery residency program. Specialization in sports medicine requires an additional year or more of fellowship training after completing surgical residency.
Typical Conditions Treated
Sports Medicine Specialists
Sports medicine doctors treat conditions that affect both athletes and non-athletes. One example of such a condition is a ligament tear, which occurs when a ligament is forced out of its normal range of motion. ACL tears, rotator cuff tears, and achilles tendon tears are all examples of ligament tears. Some other conditions treated by sports medicine doctors include overuse injuries such as stress fractures or tendonitis. Other injuries that may be treated with non-surgical methods include acute injuries like muscle strains, bone fractures, ankle sprains, and injuries to the knee and shoulder. Sports medicine doctors may also treat concussions.
Overuse injuries occur when an action is repeated that puts pressure on tissue, muscles or joints. If the body is not allowed to rest or heal, it can result in pain now and later in life. If left untreated, this can become an issue like tendonitis, where the tendons become inflamed. You may be able to prevent overuse injuries by stretching, resting, and staying hydrated.
Typical Procedures Performed
Treatment options for Sports Medicine Physicians vary depending on the injury, its location and severity, and your general health. With sports-related injuries, the goal of treatment is often getting you back to your sport. Rehabilitation and physical therapy play an important part in achieving this goal.
Sports medicine doctors know that returning too soon to physical activity can lead to further injury. Treatment may involve creating a rehabilitation plan with a physical therapist and your doctor to ensure you are properly healed before you return to play.
If the condition does not respond to conservative treatments or is very severe, surgical treatment may be required. Some examples of sports medicine procedures include cartilage repair, cartilage restoration, ligament reconstruction, surgical treatment of fractures, rotator cuff reconstruction, and meniscus repair, among others. When possible, sports medicine surgeons may recommend arthroscopy or other minimally invasive techniques to make the surgical procedure less invasive.
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