Go to Top

Sports medicine

Sports Medicine

Sport medicine practitioners are physicians specialized in physiatry or orthopedic surgery, with an additional certification in Sport and Exercise Medicine. They receive extensive education in muscoloskeletal conditions and focus on the treatment of athletes, particularly injuries of the muscle, ligament, tendon and bones.

The two most frequent sport injuries involve knees and shoulders. People who play high risk sport such as football or basketball are likely to get more injured than people who choose safer branches of sport. An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee requires medical treatment, yet in situations where the whole knee is damaged severely, a knee replacement will be conducted. As for shoulder injuries, clavicle fractures can be treated without an operation but if the injury is serious and the manifestation shows a displacement of the bones, a surgery is needed.

Sports medicine involves other health aspects of sportsmen besides musculoskeletal injury management, such as:

  • Performance enhancement – Some SEM doctors treat chronic illnesses affecting performance, like diabetes and asthma.
  • Injury prevention
  • Mental health
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Nutrition guidelines

Sports Medicine – Managing Injuries

Sports injuries may happen during training practices, strenuous exercise or due to improper training gear usage. Injuries that most typically afflict sportsmen and physically active people include:

  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Swollen muscles
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone

In sports medicine injuries are classified as acute and chronic conditions. When the injury occurs suddenly, while playing or exercising, the injury is regarded as acute (e.g.: fractures, strained backs and sprained ankles). When the problems, however, evolve progressively due to constant wear and strain, the injury is considered chronic (e.g.: tennis elbow)

In sports medicine injuries may be provided home care or hospital inpatient and outpatient treatments.

In some cases, after evaluating the injury, the doctor does not prescribe any medical treatment, but instructs you in the proper how-to of the good old RICE method:

  • Rest – reduce regular activities, take the weights off the sore parts, and use crutches if necessary.
  • Ice – apply ice for 20 minutes, four to eight times a day.
  • Compression – press the injured area to reduce swelling using an elastic wrap, an air cast, a splint or a special boot.
  • Elevation – at a level above the heart to avoid and reduce swelling.

Other standard treatments doctors recommend to treat sports injuries include:

  • NSAIDS or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – include aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, acetaminophen to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Steroids – anabolic (anabolic-androgenic) steroids or corticosteroids, such as cortisone or prednisone.
  • Immobilization – to keep the injured area from moving in order to prevent damage with splints and plasters.
  • Surgery – Some common surgeries fix torn tendons and ligaments, or put broken bones into place:
    • Rotator cuff repair
    • Anterior cruciate ligament repair
    • Shoulder and knee arthroscopy
    • Leg and ankle surgery
    • Electrodiagnostic medicine
    • Knee surgery
    • Upper extremity injuries
    • Hip arthroscopy
    • Elbow arthroscopy and ligament surgery
    • Shoulder stability surgery
  • Exercise therapy or rehab – a step-by-step exercise program is a key component of all sports medicine treatments. It can range from gently moving the injured body part, using different postures and angles to stretching, and finally using weights to strengthen the weakened area.

Rehabilitation practices usually include:

  • Electrostimulation – mild electrical currents
  • Cryotherapy – cold packs
  • Thermotherapy – heat packs
  • Ultrasound – sound waves
  • Massage
  • Chiropractics