If you’ve ever twisted an ankle or torn a ligament while playing a sport, and seen a doctor for it, the chances are that the doctor you visited is a physician trained in sports medicine. Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that seeks to treat and prevent sports-related injuries among sports players. A team of sports medicine specialists includes physicians with special training in sports medicine, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, coaches, nutritionists and other healthcare related professionals whose common goal is to boost the injured player’s recovery.

Sports medicine doctors treat injuries as well as work on preventing injuries, rehabilitation, nutrition, strength training, and anything related to the physical wellbeing of athletes. A sports medicine physician is generally certified in emergency medicine, family medicine, or any other specialty, and later gets additional training in sports medicine.

The need for a sports medicine physician has seen significant growth over the past few years. A physician trained in the field of sports medicine is a requirement by most sports organisations, clubs, and teams, making it an official medical specialty in most countries. This has immensely improved the quality of medical care for athletes, as governments of various countries are now more focused on providing quality education and training to medical students who choose to specialise in sports medicine.

The field of sports medicine is relatively new, and there is still much to be researched and discovered. Let’s look at the role of sports medicine specialists.

What Role Does Sports Medicine Doctors Play?

Treating sports-related injuries requires the technical know-how and understanding of the impact of physical activity on players’ bodies. This is where the role of a sports medicine doctor comes in. They are trained to provide specialized care for injuries caused while performing physical activity. They work alongside orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists to provide care for each patient’s specific needs. Sports medicine therapists design training programs keeping in mind a player’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and accordingly seek areas for improvement.

In sports medicine, physicians understand how players use their bodies while in motion, they advise athletes on how to prevent worsening an existing injury. Athletes often rely on the advice of sports medicine doctors before deciding if they should return to practice.

Athletes, when required, are also treated with the latest advancements in medicine and technology, such as stem cell therapy and regenerative procedures, which is possible only with the help of sports medicine specialists. Professional and aspiring athletes of all kinds spend an impressive amount of time on physical training and fitness, which can take a toll on their bodies. This is why many athletes find comfort in having an orthopaedic sports medicine specialist by their side during training.

What are the Types of Sports Injuries?

Sports injuries can be chronic or acute.

Acute sports injuries are those that occur unexpectedly during physical activity. The player may not immediately notice the injury due to the adrenaline rush. Sudden pain, swelling, redness near or at the point of injury, or pain when moving or placing weight on a limb are some symptoms of an acute injury. Examples are torn ligaments, fractures, dislocated joints, etc.

Chronic sports injuries are those that happen due to repeated motions of a body part over a long period of time. Signs and symptoms include pain while performing a physical activity, swelling at the point of injury, and dull, aching pain while resting. Examples are a tennis elbow, a runner’s knee, shin splints, etc.

Different injuries require different treatments, such as physical therapy, aquatic therapy, massage, heat treatments, etc. More serious injuries may even require minimally invasive surgical procedures.

We now know just how important sports medicine is for the well-being of any individual who is regularly active. With great advancements in sports medicine, the quality of a sports person’s life has vastly improved. Access to quality healthcare for the common man engaging in physical activities has also been more convenient in the recent past. This has hugely increased the demand for sports medicine.