Sports medicine is a large field that focuses on treating many musculoskeletal conditions. Moreover, sports medicine professionals also prepare athletes for competitions by optimizing their physical performance using the latest scientific data.
Due to the variety of services offered by sports medicine, there are many subfields where healthcare professionals enroll in different training programs.
In this article, we will cover several types of sports medicine that specialize in different injuries and physical disabilities.
The different types of sports medicine
1. Sports medicine doctors (orthopedic)
Orthopedic sports medicine doctors go through multiple phases of training. After finishing medical school (4 years), they specialize in orthopedic surgery, which takes 5 years to finish, then undergo 1 year of additional training in the field of sports medicine.
These healthcare professionals receive certifications from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the Sports Medicine Subspecialty boards.
Here are the following conditions treated by a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon:
- Limb and spine deformities (e.g., scoliosis)
- Gait abnormalities (limping)
- Bone and joint infections
- Sprains and strains
- Ligament injuries
- Overuse injuries
- Cartilage injuries
2. Certified athletic trainers
A certified athletic trainer (ATC) generally works with schools and local teams. He/she is usually the first person to evaluate an injury; they will help with the assessment of injuries, providing initial care, rehabilitation, and referring to doctors.
To become an ATC, one needs to complete a 4-year college degree in athletic training and undergo a long process of certification.
3. Physical therapists
Physical therapists help patients recover from their injuries. These professionals have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; however, many have a master’s level or doctoral training to manipulate the musculoskeletal system.
Physical therapists may use electrical stimulation, massage therapy, ultrasound waves, and manual therapy to treat different injuries. They work closely with physicians to set up personalized exercise programs to prevent injuries and address musculoskeletal issues.
Some physical therapists are also certified as athletic trainers, allowing them to offer both services.
Podiatrists specialize in the problems of feet. They receive 4 years of postgraduate doctoral-level training, followed by 2–3 years of residency.
Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat foot and ankle problems using both surgical and nonsurgical methods. They also use X-rays to identify bone injuries. After diagnosing the issue, podiatrists can prescribe drugs and/or physical therapy to address the issues of the foot.
Sports medicine is a vast field that uses a variety of techniques and methods from various healthcare professionals to prevent injuries and treat active lesions.
We hope that this article managed to introduce the different types of sports medicine and the cases they take care of.
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Dr. Kevin Crawford
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Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service only, and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance should consult his or her doctor or orthopedic surgeon.