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What is Sports Medicine?

Doctors and Medical Specialties

Sports medicine is the field that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of sports- and exercise-related injuries, specifically damage to the rotation of joints and/or muscles. Sports science (or exercise science) is the study of the principals of physiology, psychology, and anatomy as they relate to physical movement. The application of sports science is focused on injury prevention, sports performance, and lifestyle improvement.

Sports medicine physicians treat these common problems :

  • tennis elbow
  • tendonitis
  • torn rotator cuffs
  • stress fractures
  • sprain
  • plantar fasciitis
  • shin splints
  • hamstring injuries
  • knee pain

People also see sports medicine doctors and professionals in sports science to learn more about their body composition, endurance, flexibility, fitness level, nutrition, injury prevention and other issues that are related to sports and exercise.

Due to the growing awareness of the benefits of sports medicine, colleges and universities are beginning to offer more programs geared towards careers in sports medicine. This field is not made up of sports medicine physicians alone. There are many choices in the field: sports psychology, sports physiology, sports education, athletic training, exercise science, kinesiology, massage therapy, coaching, medicine, and sports medicine research. Each field has an important role and its own rewards.

Since sports medicine and sports science are relatively new fields, there are no traditional residency programs for sports medicine doctors in the United States. Sports medicine physicians normally specialize in family medicine or orthopedic surgery before completing a fellowship in sports medicine. Coursework for sports medicine physicians includes genetics, sports injuries, orthopedic radiology, cardiac rehabilitative therapy, musculoskeletal injuries, nutrition, chiropractic, and physiotherapeutic techniques.

A general practitioner or family doctor is also qualified to treat sports and exercise related injuries. Regardless of your provider choice, be sure your treatment is handled by a qualified doctor or professional. The title 'sports medicine specialist' can be used by a variety of sports caregivers; know what type of sports medicine professional you need to see by asking for a referral from your primary caregiver. Also ask:

Is the healthcare provider experienced in sports medicine? Does the provider work in conjunction with other sports care professionals to make an array of services available? If the provider is a physician, is he/she board certified? Did the provider complete a fellowship program in sports medicine? Is sports medicine treatment covered by your healthcare insurance?

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