Injuries are common for people involved in sports. Research has shown that over 3.5 million children under the age of 14 fall victim to sports injuries every year. While general physicians are equipped to handle minor injuries, it’s best to visit sports medicine doctors for comprehensive care.
What Do Sports Medicine Doctors Do?
The job of a sports medicine doctor is extremely specialized. They are trained in the diagnostics and treatment of sports-caused and sports-related injuries and accidents.
To become a sports medicine doctor, you must complete your paramedical degree and successfully clear the Medical College Admission test (MCAT). Sports medicine isn’t a recognized residency in many countries and as a result, interested applicants must complete a ‘residency’ in general or family medicine and do a fellowship in sports medicine.
Most sports medicine doctors work with both children and adults; with some working with school districts and athletic organizations.
Common Sports-Related Injuries
A sports medicine doctor, usually witness and treat cases involving multiple types of injuries and accidents, such as:
- Hamstring strain and tear
- Groin pull
- Knee injury and tear
- Ankle sprain
- Fractures and dislocations
- Shin splints
- Tennis elbow
- Shoulder sprain and tear
While fatalities are rare, sports medicine physicians are trained to handle all types of musculoskeletal injuries that occur as a result of sports. In addition to this, sports medicine doctors who specialize in general health may actively work with athletes to improve their physical performance. Right from treating asthma to guiding patients about correct body movements, sports medicine doctors help sportspeople in multiple ways.
Therapy Versus Surgery
Not all sports injuries are external and visible. Sometimes, injuries manifest in the form of certain symptoms which indicate that something is wrong. Some of the signs of sports injuries are:
- Chronic pain in bones and joints
- Swelling of the injured part of the body
- Extreme stiffness or limited movement of the body part
- Visible dislocation of the bone
- Extreme weakness and muscle fatigue
- Inability to use the injured part of the body
If any of these symptoms are noticed, it is recommended to visit the sports medicine doctor at the earliest.
A sports medicine doctor is expected to determine the severity of the injury and the course of treatment. Most doctors first choose to subject their patients to sports injury rehabilitation.
A rehabilitation center is perfect to help athletes regain basic functional abilities in the injured part of the body. Apart from this, the sports medicine doctor will also help patients with muscle reconditioning, sports-specific physiotherapy, proprioceptive training and a host of other treatments. Some doctors will even fit bracing pads and prosthetics at their clinics.
Surgery is chosen only as the final course of action. It is a well-known fact that surgery can ruin the sporting ability of an athlete. The job of a sports medicine doctor is to repair the injury and rehabilitate the athlete, without the need for surgery. Sports medicine physicians conduct ultrasounds, MRIs, and X-rays to determine the nature of the injury. They first use hot and cold compressions and electro-stimulation to heal the injury. If these remain unsuccessful, they schedule a surgery.
A sports medicine doctor is entrusted with the responsibility of an athlete’s safety and career. Their knowledge, wisdom, and experience will be the key to the successful recovery and performance of their patients.