Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) is the treatment by medical, surgical, and rehabilitative means, all musculoskeletal system structures that are affected by athletic activity.
SEM physicians specialize in diagnosing and treating any medical conditions that physically active individuals or athletes encounter. SEM doctors treat injuries such as muscle, ligament, tendon, and bone problems and treat chronic illnesses that can affect physical performance, such as exercise-induced asthma and diabetes. Common sports injuries include concussion, ACL sprains and tears, ankle sprains, shin splints, and muscle strains. SEM doctors also advise on managing and preventing injuries.
Team physicians working in elite sports also often play a role in performance medicine, in which an athletes’ physiology is monitored, and aberrations are corrected to achieve peak physical performance.
SEM physicians are specialist physicians who have completed medical school, appropriate residency training, and specialize further in Sports and Exercise Medicine. Sports medicine may be a doctor’s first specialty (as in Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Italy). It may also be a sub-specialty or second specialization following a specialization such as physiatry or orthopedic surgery.
SEM physicians may work closely with Orthopedic Surgeons, Radiologists, Physiotherapists, Medical Massage Therapists, Rheumatologists, and Psychologists.
What Does a Sports Medicine Doctor Do?
If you suddenly find yourself with a sports-related injury, then visiting your regular family doctor might not be the best option. Sports medicine is focused on preventing and treating exercise- and sports-related injuries, so a sports doctor is best equipped to help you.
In addition to diagnosing and treating these injuries quickly, a significant benefit of sports medicine doctors is that they know how to implement alternative methods to avoid requiring surgery. Whereas many physicians may be quick to recommend surgery, a sports physician will try other methods first.
Who Are Sports Medicine Doctors?
When you think of a sports medicine doctor, you probably picture a physician who’s waiting at the sidelines and who jumps into action whenever an athlete is injured during a competition. They are specially trained to swiftly diagnose and treat injuries sustained from playing sports and any other type of orthopedic (musculoskeletal) injuries. Their goal is to get the player back to their sport as quickly and safely as possible.
They also aim to help people exercise safely and effectively to achieve optimum performance. This includes prescribing strength-training of muscles that the physician notices are lacking in balance with other muscles.
Sports medicine doctors will treat an injury and explain how to care for an injury while remaining in shape properly. Usually, these physicians handle the non-operative treatment of injuries of muscles, bones, and joints, such as the following:
Treating Medical Conditions
A sports doctor can also handle chronic or acute illnesses as well as nutrition and performance issues. Additionally, they can help patients in determining when to return to their regular activities after treatment.
Their work consists primarily of injury management to ensure fast recovery and a safe return to the sport, including the following:
Sport medicine doctors can work closely with other medical practitioners, such as orthopedic surgeons, therapists, and dieticians.