Sports Medicine is a Subspecialty which can be pursued by doctors from multiple specialties including Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatrics, and Physical Medicine and rehabilitation (Physiatrists). A subspecialty physician trained to be responsible for the full spectrum of care in the field of sports medicine, including but not limited to enhancement of fitness, but also for the prevention of injury. These doctors are well-versed in issues such as nutrition, exercise physiology, biomechanics, relevant injuries and physical rehabilitation, and the role of exercise in promoting a healthy life style. These doctors treat injuries related to participating in sports and/or exercise. Injuries to patient’s bones, muscles, joints, tendons, or ligaments that result from physical activity are typical and may include tendonitis and other overuse syndromes, cartilage tears, fractures, ligament ruptures of the various joints, and other problems as described below. Many of these doctors serve as dedicated physicians for professional or amateur sports teams.
Some of the most common conditions that are treated by Sports Medicine specialists include the following:
- Muscle cramps - Muscle cramps are common in sports activities, and related to overuse of the muscle. When the muscle is fatigued, it becomes predisposed to spasm or involuntary contraction, which can be a painful condition for the athlete. Although muscle cramps are generally self-limiting, this temporarily inhibits the athlete from using the affected muscle during the sports activity. Muscle cramps are usually treated with rest and muscle stretching and adequate fluid and electrolyte replacement.
- Muscle strain - Muscle strain happens when the muscles are overstretched causing tears in the fibers.
- Sprain - Sprains happen when the ligaments (or tissues connecting the bones together) are overstretched causing tears. Torn ligaments are the extreme versions of sprains. Ligamentous tears are common on the knees (especially in the anterior cruciate ligament), which results in severe knee pain and unstable knee joint. Ligament tears often require surgical reconstruction of the injured ligament.
- Fractures - Bone fractures are also common, especially in contact sports. These injuries are generally managed by orthopedic surgeons.
- Medical conditions - Medical conditions such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes, and other diseases that can affect the performance of an athlete are also managed by sports medicine specialists.