The area of sports medicine involves a specialization in sports related injuries which occur through exercise and sports related activities. A typical practice will generally be comprised of a combination of medical doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and massage therapists. A group of this type focuses primarily on sports and sports-related medical services. A typical practice will focus on the non-surgical medical treatment of musculoskeletal sports conditions. A primary focus of most physicians will be to evaluate and treat all medical conditions affecting athletes which many include acute illness, chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, acute injury overuse injuries, heat illness and amenorrhea.
Physicians will generally help patients to maximize function and minimize the disability and time away from sports, work, or school. Many physicians who start out in general sports medicine related practices and who are board certified are many times eligible to take a subspecialty qualification examination in sports medicine. With practices including such a variety of expertise, many times it is difficult to distinguish between a sports medicine physician and an orthopedic surgeon. Although both play an important role in the treatment of sports related injuries due to being well trained in musculoskeletal medicine, there are some distinct differences. Most sports medicine physicians are specializing in the non-operative medical treatment of musculoskeletal sports conditions, while orthopedic surgeons are also trained in the operative treatment of these conditions. A very large number of sports injuries are non-surgical, and these physicians can expedite referral to an orthopedic sports surgeon when indicated, and can help guide referrals to appropriate rehabilitative care and ancillary services as needed.
For many people, working with a qualified sports medicine physician will enable them to receive advice about exercises that improve endurance, strength, and flexibility. Many sports physicians will perform fitness tests and offer nutritional advice and other coaching to help athletes improve performance. For most sports medicine practitioners, there is a big focus on preventive medicine and conditioning plays a very large role.
The role of Orthopedists is to perform surgery to potentially restore the loss of a function that may have resulted from an injury or disease. They are involved in all aspects of health care pertaining to the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedists utilize a combination of medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgical methods in what they do. Orthopedists also work closely with other health care professionals and often serve as a consultant to many other physicians