Sports medicine doctors are trained to provide care for patients who have suffered injuries during physical activities, and to assist patients in staying healthy during exercise.

About Sports Medicine

Physicians specializing in sports medicine are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of complications and disorders resulting from physical activity; they also treat disorders that adversely affect physical performance. A wide range of physicians are capable of providing care within the specialty of sports medicine including orthopedists, psychiatrists and internists.

Sports related injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include sports hernias, concussions, muscle tears, ruptures, and strains, fractures, shin splints, twists and sprains, ligament and tendon damage, joint dislocations, and many other acute and chronic injuries. Treatments provided include rehabilitation, electrostimulation therapy, cryotherapy, massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, casting injured bones, various surgeries, and numerous other treatment procedures.

Sports medicine specialists may provide care for student athletes throughout primary, secondary school, and college in addition to professional athletes. Adults who participate in physical activities or amateur sports, sometimes referred to as “weekend warriors,” may also require the care of a sports medicine specialist should they incur a sports-related injury.

Sports Medicine Education & Training

Physicians practicing within the medical specialty of sports medicine have completed a demanding program of education and training. They physician begins by completing a four year bachelor’s degree before attending an accredited medical school. After completing a general medical education culminating in the award of an MD or DO degree, the physician usually completes residency training in one of the following areas: family medicine, internal medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, emergency medicine, pediatrics or orthopedic surgery.

During residency training, the physician will be trained under licensed, experienced physicians in their field and may even begin to specialize in sports medicine or the musculoskeletal system. Following completion of a residency, the physician will typically need to enroll in a two year sports medicine fellowship. As a fellow, the physician will hone their skills in the diagnosis and treatment of sports related injuries. The intended scope of care for each physician will determine residency training. For example, physicians who have completed the educational and training requirements to become an orthopedic surgeon are able to supplement their scope of care with additional surgical procedures and treatments, while physicians who have completed a pediatric residency may specialize in providing care for sports-related injuries to children and adolescents.

Many physicians trained in sports medicine will seek board certification in the area of their residency training, as well as board certification in sports medicine from that same board (which leads to double-board certification). For example, sports medicine physicians who have completed residency training in pediatrics will seek certification from the American Board of Pediatrics in their primary specialty, pediatrics, and their subspecialty, sports medicine. All sports medicine physicians must hold a valid medical license in each they provide care.