A sports medicine doctor treats and diagnoses sports injuries and conditions. Though they are labeled “sports medicine”, most work with a wide range a patients who have injuries of their musculoskeletal system.
Athletes tend to experience specific types of injuries that sports medicine doctors are highly trained to treat. Injuries in athletes tend to result from repetitive action of the sport (ex. throwing injuries in baseball), overuse, overtraining or improper form / technique. The doctor will access injuries on the field or in their clinic.
If a sports medicine doctor is specifically working with a sports team, they help prevent and treat injuries in athletes. They can work on the field, in the training room or in a clinic setting with patients. Their daily activities include things like diagnosing conditions and developing physical therapy plans for athletes.
Though athletes are a huge part of a sports medicine doctors practice, they can also work with non-athletes. Since most of their work is treating fractures or diagnosing musculoskeletal conditions, they can work with anyone experiencing these kinds of issues.
Sports Medicine specialists are Medical Doctors (M.D.) with a license in sports medicine. After completing medical school, most Sports Medicine Doctors then go on to complete a residency. The total process takes a minimum of 8 years, then an average of two years in residency. Sports medicine is a highly competitive field of medicine.
A sports medicine specialist is a type of orthopedic surgeon that specializes in treating sports injuries amongst other conditions.
General orthopedists can practice a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, while sports medicine doctors choose to narrow their focus to a select few areas. These orthopedic sports medicine specialists also undergo an additional year of training in what is called a fellowship.
Another difference in orthopedics and sports medicine is orthopedics tend to focus specifically on conditions of the musculoskeletal system while sports medicine doctors can treat trauma injuries such as bone fractures.
It is important to see a sports medicine doctor if you are experiencing pain in the joints or muscles. Once your pain has reached a point to where it is preventing you from doing your daily tasks comfortably, you should seek medical attention. You could have an injury or condition that will gradually get worse, and the sooner your doctor is able to provide care the more likely you will experience a full recovery.
Once you arrive at your appointment and are all checked in at the front desk, you will be walked to your room by a medical assistant. This person may give an initial evaluation, so that the doctor is prepared before meeting you. Once you meet the doctor, they will ask questions and give an initial evaluation to better understand what you are experiencing. After performing a thorough physical examination, they may run tests or perform imaging such as an X-RAY or MRI.
Depending on the type of injury or condition, the doctor may have you perform simple exercises to see how the injury is preventing your body from doing certain tasks. It is important you come in clothes that are comfortable allow you to move around a bit.
If you see a sports medicine doctor, they may suggest physical therapy as part of your treatment plan. At Elite Sports Medicine, our team works with the physical therapists at MPOWER Physical Therapy. MPOWER is home to some of the best physical therapists in Nashville, including many who work with athletes and specialize in physical therapy for specific sports. We offer a one-stop-shop for all of your sports medicine, orthopedic, and physical therapy needs.