When you think of the term “sports medicine,” what do you picture? You might imagine a doctor specifically for professional athletes like football or basketball players. Someone who attends the games and practices in case of an injury and can step in as soon as one happens; or they help train the athletes to do certain exercises to help prevent injury. While this is one example of someone practicing sports medicine, professionals in the sports medicine field do so much more. A sports medicine professional can work with anyone.
What is Sports Medicine?
Sports medicine professionals focus is on the physical fitness of their patients. This could mean helping a patient with physical therapy after surgery, performing surgery to fix a problem, teaching exercises to prevent injury, and even teaching nutrition to patients. Professionals in this field are usually certified in another medical specialty, like pediatrics or emergency medicine, and then received additional training to work in sports medicine.
Different Types of Sports Medicine Professionals
- Rehabilitation specialists are professionals who help patients after an injury or an illness get back to their normal life. Physical therapists and occupational therapists would be considered a rehabilitation specialist.
- Athletic trainers do similar work to a physical therapist but they work specifically with athletes. They may also work with athletes or coaches on injury prevention.
- Sports psychologists use psychology to help athletes perform better and increase their motivation. They help non-athletes learn to enjoy physical activity and use it to better their life.
- Dietitians can help patients learn how to get the right nutrition for their body. They look into the lifestyle, medical history, and goals of their patient to give them advice about their eating habits.
- Orthopedic doctors specialize in the musculoskeletal system and work with patients about bone, joint, and muscle problems. They can diagnose, treat, and help patients with rehabilitation.
- Orthopedic surgeons can do everything that an orthopedic doctor can, with the addition of performing surgery.
When Should I See a Sports Medicine Specialist?
It’s a good idea to see a sports medicine specialist if you are starting a new sport or a new workout routine. Whether or not you are an athlete, they can help you with reaching your fitness goals. A specialist can do a physical examination with you to make sure that your desired activity is safe for you. They can also teach you how to prevent injuries in your new activity, making it more likely that you will be able to stick with it.
You should definitely see a sports medicine specialist if you get injured, are recovering from an injury, or go through surgery that inhibits your physical activity. If you have been injured you should see your physician and follow their recommendations. They will check the injury and be able to refer you to a specialist that has the training to work with your specific injury.
If you are experiencing recurring pain from a previous or recent injury (related to sports or not), give our office a call to set up a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons.