Main Line Spine Health Letter Logo

How Sports Medicine Keeps Weekend to Professional Athletes in the Game

Sports Medicine Is Also Appropriate for Those with Active Lives and Physically Demanding Jobs as Well

May 2024

Sports medicine isn’t solely limited to procedures and treatments for athletes.

It does focus on preventing, diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating sports-related injuries. But you don’t have to be a weekend, school, or professional athlete to take advantage of all it offers.

Sports medicine is also appropriate for those injured during physically demanding work activities, such as pulling a muscle while on a construction site. It has a place for those hurt while pursuing active lifestyles, such as throwing out your back while doing yard work. It provides services to those who injure themselves while doing recreational exercises, too.

In this article, we’ll help you better understand what sports medicine involves and determine if it might be a good treatment path for you.

A woman kicks a soccer ball into play

Who Practices Sports Medicine?

Most sports medicine practitioners have a variety of backgrounds, ranging from physical medicine and rehabilitation to orthopedics, family medicine to internal medicine, pediatrics to emergency medicine, and other specialties. They all share one common goal: to get you back into the game and function at peak performance.

Sports medicine is also practiced with a team of supporting medical professionals. These may include:

  • Physical Therapists
  • Certified Athletic Trainers
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Chiropractic Practitioners

Each of these professionals may play a role in your recovery, helping you return to full function sooner.

What Kinds of Injuries Does Sports Medicine Treat?

Sports Medicine covers various musculoskeletal conditions involving the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These include:

There are two general categories within sports medicine care.

The first involves acute injuries. These kinds of conditions develop suddenly and usually last only a short period. Examples may range from a sprained ankle or an accidental fall to bone fractures, dislocated shoulders, or torn tendons.

The second category involves wear-and-tear disorders like arthritis that develop over time. These disorders can occur or get worse with sports or exercise, but they are more often a result of repetitive movement in our work or simple daily routines. This can lead to a loss in mobility, along with mild to severe pain from strain or stress on affected body parts.

How Are Sports Medicine Injuries Evaluated?

An initial sports medicine appointment will involve a full evaluation to fully understand a patient’s symptoms, medical history, daily activities, and goals. Most frequently, common musculoskeletal conditions can be successfully treated non-operatively.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-rays, or ultrasound will be prescribed in appropriate cases to visualize and assess sports injuries.

X-rays provide valuable insights into fractures and bony abnormalities, while MRI and ultrasound offer detailed information about soft tissue structures, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. These imaging techniques help confirm diagnoses, assess the extent of injuries, and guide treatment decisions.

How Are Sports Medicine Injuries Treated?

Although a sports medicine doctor will take the lead in evaluating your injury, treatment plans often involve a team of supporting medical professionals.

Physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation are often integral components of sports medicine injury treatment.

Sports medicine professionals work closely with physical therapists to design individualized rehabilitation programs that focus on restoring strength, range of motion, and function. Rehabilitation may include exercises, manual therapy, specialized therapies, and functional training to aid recovery and prevent future injuries.

Medications and injections may be prescribed to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and facilitate healing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with sports injuries.

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to target specific areas of inflammation and provide localized relief. These injections also reduce pain, allowing more effective physical therapy treatments.

When a sports injury is severe and non-surgical alternatives have been exhausted, a sports medicine doctor may suggest that surgical intervention be considered. Surgical treatments can involve fracture fixation, ligament reconstructions, cartilage repair, and other procedures to restore function and promote recovery.

How Can Sports Injuries Be Prevented?

There are ways that you can minimize the likelihood of sustaining sports injuries:

  • Stretch and Cool Down: Warming up before a workout with an easy walk or jog will lessen muscle strain. After warming up, stretch to increase flexibility, and be sure to cool down afterward. This advice applies to preparing to participate in a sport, begin an exercise workout, or engage in any intense physical activity, such as construction or yard work.
  • Learn and Use Proper Technique: Proper technique in your sport is vital for injury prevention. Seek guidance from experienced coaches or trainers to use the correct form and body mechanics during training and competition. This also includes using proper techniques in general activities, such as lifting heavy items.
  • Develop Strength and Conditioning: Follow a fitness plan incorporating resistance training to target core stability and flexibility to support your body during sports and physical activities.
  • Wear Protective Gear: Wearing appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, pads, and mouthguards, can significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries in contact sports. Wearing a helmet when biking, skiing, or participating in similar activities is essential. Use specialized equipment that is designed to protect you in everyday work situations.
  • Wear the Right Shoes: Improperly fitting or inappropriate shoes can lead to conditions such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and ankle sprains. Ensure you are using the right shoes for the activity you are participating in and that they are not worn beyond their useful life.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise can help prevent muscle damage, fatigue, and other complications that can lead to injury.
  • Pay attention to your body: Look for signs of fatigue, pain, or discomfort. If you experience pain while playing, exercising, or working, stop the activity. Pushing through injuries can worsen them and lead to longer recovery times.
  • Adjust Your Routine in Hot Weather: Take extra precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses during hot weather. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing and schedule activities during cooler parts of the day.

When Should You See a Sports Medicine Practitioner?

When an injury still hurts after resting, or it feels better until you start to exercise again, you should make an appointment with a sports medicine physician or a specialist in musculoskeletal medicine, such as a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor.

Make an Appointment

Share This Page: