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What is Sports Medicine?

Sports Medicine, also known as sports and exercise medicine (SEM), is a branch of medicine that deals with the treatment and prevention of sports and exercise-related injuries and improving fitness and performance. The main objective of sports medicine is to help individuals engage in sports and exercise in a safe and effective manner to accomplish their training goals.

A sports medicine team may comprise medical and non-medical specialists, such as physicians, surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports psychologists, nutritionists, coaches, and personal trainers. Most sports medicine physicians deal with non-operative musculoskeletal conditions. Others are orthopedic surgeons who have decided to focus their practice on the surgical treatment of sports injuries.

Sports medicine is not a medical specialty in itself. Most sports medicine doctors are certified in internal medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, orthopedics, or another specialty and then acquire additional training with a 2-year fellowship in sports medicine to be certified as a sports medicine specialist.

Who are Sports Medicine Specialists?

Sports medicine specialists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of sports- or exercise-related injuries and illness. A sports medicine specialist focuses on the medical, therapeutic, and functional aspects of exercise and works directly with athletes to improve their overall sports performance. Although sports medicine specialists work exclusively with athletes, the majority will treat anyone who needs treatment for a sports or exercise-related injury.

Sports medicine specialists treat a wide range of physical conditions, including acute traumas such as fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations. They also treat chronic overuse injuries including tendonitis, degenerative diseases, and overtraining syndrome.

What are Sports Injuries?

Sports injuries are injuries sustained while playing indoor or outdoor sports such as football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and tennis, or while exercising. Sports injuries can result from sports accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. Common sports injuries include bone muscle, ligament and tendon injuries that commonly involve joints such as the shoulders, knees, hips, ankles and feet.

Some of the common types of sports injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:

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