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Sports Medicine Specialist Doctor

Sports Medicine Specialist Doctor

Beside coaches, sports medicine specialists are figures who play an important role in an athlete’s career. Sports medicine specialists or sports physicians are able to provide care for athletes who have experienced injuries, either through treatment or therapy during the recovery period.

In the medical world, sports medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on treating health problems related to sports injuries. Not only do they treat post-injury cases, sports physicians also play a pivotal role in providing consultation to prevent sports or other physical activity injuries.

The development of sports medicine started around the 1970s – when there were an increasing number of sports-related injuries and there was demand to treat sports injury cases more professionally by specialist doctors.

Injuries can have a huge impact on an athlete’s career path. Apart from the long recovery period, serious injuries can also affect the livelihoods of athletes in the world of professional sports. In fact, back when the development of sports medicine was not as advanced as it is today, injuries such as a tear or sprain of the knee ligament (Anterior Cruciate Ligament / ACL) could end an athlete’s career.

To help recover injured athletes, sports physicians will work with sports therapists to perform a series of medical procedures. These sports health professional workers not only treat injuries, but also make an effort to prevent, rehabilitate, regulate nutrition, and train athletes to improve their performance.

Sports physicians do not only treat athletes but also non-athletes who are injured due to sports and physical activities. Sports medicine is also often referred to as physical exercise as it also focuses on issues of body fitness and exercise by paying attention to things that can minimise the occurrence of injuries. In short, you can also consult a sports physicians if you want to engage in sports activities or exercise, and want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Training Requirements to Become a Sports Medicine Specialist

To become a sports physician, there are several requirements and training one must go through, namely:

  • Have a certificate in Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Physical Medicine / Rehabilitation, Internal Medicine, or Paediatric Medicine.
  • Receive additional Sports Medicine scholarship training for one to two years.
  • Pass the National Sports Medicine certification exam to obtain a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine.
  • Re-certify every 10 years and continue to participate in medical education.

Diseases and Conditions Treated by Sports Physicians

Injuries experienced during sports come in numerous types and levels. Sports medicine deals with musculoskeletal injuries, which refer to muscles, joints, tendons, bones and ligaments injuries. Injuries can be divided into two types, acute injuries and chronic injuries. Both are treatable by sports physicians, followed by therapy and recovery process for the patients. 

Acute musculoskeletal injuries that sports medicine specialists can treat include:

  • Cramps and sprains in various parts of the body.
  • Muscle strains
  • Injury to the ligament area (tissue that connects the bones) and cartilage.
  • Plantar fasciitis, an injury or inflammation of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes
  • Bruises.
  • Closed fractures (broken bones that don’t penetrate the skin)

As for chronic injuries, sports medicine specialist can treat the following:

  • Back aches and pains
  • Joint inflammatory pain (arthritis)
  • Tendons injury in several areas such as the hamstrings, the Achilles tendon in the ankle (the large tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone), and the rotator cuff injury which affects the stability of the upper arm.
  • Bursitis, swollen joint pads that can occur in the elbows, shoulders, knees and hips

Although both have the ability to deal with musculoskeletal conditions, sports medicine specialists are different from orthopaedic surgeons. Medical procedures performed by sports physicians to deal with injuries are non-surgical procedures through various treatments and therapies. The patient may be recommended to see an orthopaedic surgeon for further treatment to speed up the recovery.

Medical Procedures Performed by Sports Physicians

Today, sports medicine specialists are often found present at sporting events to treat athletes who have suffered an injury. Sports physicians can perform numerous medical procedures as follows:

  • Perform a comprehensive physical examination of the patient to determine his/her condition before participating in a competition.
  • Evaluate, assess, and provide treatment for injuries.
  • Provide special care to patients with special needs such as the disabled or geriatric patients.
  • Not only dealing with physical injuries, sports medicine specialists also deal with sports psychology issues and anti-doping problems
  • Responsible for providing general medical procedures related to sports for athletes.
  • Provide education and care to prevent injury.
  • Work with sports medicine teams in dealing with injuries.
  • Communicate and coordinate with coaches, athletes, and their families regarding the patient’s physical condition

When to See a Sports Physician?

Making a consultation appointment with a sports physicians can be done when you experience an injury after exercising. Sports medicine is not only for athletes, but also for anyone who engages in physical activity for health and recreational purposes. Consultation with a sports medicine specialist can also be done when you need help to be more active in sports, with appropriate directions according to your physical condition.

In addition, you can seek treatment and see a sports medicine specialist if you are dealing with the following:

  • Acute injury.
  • Need to recover physical condition due to chronic injury.
  • Require direction in doing sports, including guidance on nutrition, supplements, and injury prevention.
  • Have an injury but want to keep doing sports.
  • Have asthma, diabetes, heart and endocrine disorders but want to engage in sports

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