What is the Role of a Sports Medicine Doctor?

Healthcare is like real estate. It’s largely based on location. A typical doctor’s appointment in France isn’t like care in the U.S. The health insurance systems are completely different as is the medical practices.

In every country, there are medical specialists. In the United States, there’s a specialist called a sports medicine doctor, like Jordan D. Metzl, MD a physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery. However, he’ll be the first to tell you sports medicine doctors don’t just help athletes.

How a Sports Medicine Doctor Differs From Other Physicians

The field of medicine is so broad, most medical professionals choose a specialty to practice. This allows them to gain a keen understanding of certain types of ailments and human anatomy. Sports medicine is one of those specialties.

A sports medicine doctor treats sports-related injuries as well as musculoskeletal ailments of all kinds. These ailments can be simple injuries that are relatively easy to recuperate from all the way up to serious injuries that require multiple surgeries. There are also chronic ailments that require ongoing treatment.

Common injuries and ailments that are treated by sports medicine doctors include:

  • Muscle strains
  • Sprains
  • Tendinitis
  • Fractures
  • Sports concussions
  • Arthritis
  • Ligament tears
  • Muscle tears
  • Dislocations

Pain is another problem that a sports medicine doctor treats. This is generally the case when pain is felt in the bones or joints such as the wrist, knee, shoulder or elbow. They diagnose the problem causing the pain and come up with a treatment plan for controlling and improving it.

Some physicians are sports medicine surgeons. They have gone through additional training to provide surgical intervention when a sports-related or musculoskeletal system injury cannot be corrected with non-invasive therapies.

There’s also something known as primary sports medicine care. This is a practice where sports medicine doctors use non-surgical musculoskeletal care. It can also be a matter of health management to help a patient maintain their health.

Often people confuse sports medicine with physical therapy. While they are similar in that both specialties work to correct musculoskeletal ailments, there are distinct differences. For one, physical therapists are never surgeons and don’t obtain a medical degree like sports medicine doctors. They also aren’t required to do a residency before practicing independently.

Because of this additional training, sports medicine doctors are able to diagnose medical problems using specialized equipment and can also prescribe medications. Often it’s a sports medicine doctor that refers a patient to a physical therapist for follow-up care.

A physical therapist does have to complete education and other requirements mandated by the state before they can get licensed. These specialists help with the recovery of a number of ailments, even those outside of sports injuries, using non-invasive techniques that focus on proper movement and strength building.

Who a Sports Medicine Doctor Helps

Athletes of all ages often visit a sports medicine doctor to treat injuries that are sustained during training or playing. This is highly beneficial for athletes because a sports medicine doctor isn’t just focused on correcting the problem. They focus on helping patients fully recover and ideally be even healthier than before. That means athletes have a better chance of getting safely and quickly back in the game.

Dr. Metzl and many other sports medicine doctors are former athletes themselves. They understand the demands and desire to play again. They also understand the tough road ahead to get there.

However, everyday ordinary people also seek out the expertise of sports medicine doctors. The patients range from children to active retirees. Many fitness enthusiasts and dancers also end up in a sports medicine doctor’s office. Generally speaking, anyone who suffers a muscle or bone injury may need to see a sports medicine doctor.

If you suffer an injury that requires the expertise of a sports medicine doctor it’s important to find a highly qualified physician. These types of injuries can lead to chronic pain and mobility issues if not treated appropriately. Look for a physician who is a member of National Organization for Primary Care Sports Medicine and/or the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine to ensure you get the best results possible.

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