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What is a Sports Medicine Physician? Your Guide to Orthopedic Sports Medicine

We all know physical activity is important. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just enjoying staying active, sports medicine plays a vital role in keeping you healthy, active, and performing at your best. But, exactly what is a sports medicine physician?


To understand what a sports medicine physician is, it’s crucial to have a general understanding about the practice itself. In this blog, we’ll explore the essence of sports medicine, the role of a sports medicine physician, when to seek their expertise, common sports-related injuries, and the path to becoming a sports medicine physician.


Let’s dive right in!


What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is a specialized branch of healthcare focused on preventing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries related to physical activity. It integrates various disciplines to address the unique needs of athletes and active individuals alike. So, if you’re wondering “what is a sports medicine physician?” keep reading to learn about what these professionals actually do.


Rehab at Orthopedic sports medicine clinic


What is a Sports Medicine Physician?

A sports medicine physician is a specialized doctor in orthopedic sports medicine who focuses on keeping active individuals healthy and helping them perform at their best. These doctors have expertise in understanding how the body moves during physical activity and how injuries happen. They focus on overall health and wellness to outline the benefits of physical activity for everyone, not just athletes. 


Moreover, sports medicine physicians may provide advice on nutrition, hydration, and other lifestyle factors that can affect performance and recovery. Through proper training techniques, equipment recommendations, and biomechanical analysis, they aim to reduce the risk of injury for athletes of all levels.


Preventing and Treating Injuries

Sports medicine physicians are dedicated to preventing and treating injuries that occur during physical activity. They leverage their understanding of biomechanics and activity risk factors to develop strategies for injury prevention. 


When injuries do occur, sports medicine physicians diagnose and treat them. They may use a variety of methods, including physical therapy, medications, injections, and sometimes surgery if needed. Their goal is to get athletes back to their sport or activity safely and as quickly as possible.


Promoting Physical Activity

Next, sports medicine professionals are key in promoting physical activity for better health. They encourage people to participate in safe and effective exercise routines tailored to their age, fitness level, and goals.


They educate and counsel individuals, prescribing exercises that fit their needs and abilities. This guidance includes tips on warm-up and cool-down techniques, preventing injuries, and the importance of cross-training for a well-rounded fitness routine.


Optimizing Performance

Finally, these experts in orthopedic sports medicine know exactly how to encourage optimal performance for active people. In addition to warm-up and cool-down routines, they also advise athletes on effective recovery strategies to enhance performance and reduce the risk of burnout.


They monitor athletes’ progress closely, making adjustments to training plans as needed based on performance feedback, injury status, and changes in goals or circumstances.


Orthopedic sports medicine done in an office on an athletic woman


When Should I Visit a Sports Medicine Physician?

Whether you’re an athlete aiming to improve your performance or someone looking to increase your activity levels safely, these doctors can help. Early intervention is key to preventing injuries from becoming more serious or chronic, so don’t hesitate to seek specialized care from a sports medicine physician


Here are three indications that you should see a sports medicine physician:


  • Signs and symptoms: If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or limited mobility during or after physical activity, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires specialized care. Additionally, any sudden or severe pain, joint instability, or unusual sensations in the muscles or joints should prompt a visit to a sports medicine physician.

  • Early Intervention: It’s essential to seek early intervention for sports-related injuries to prevent them from becoming more serious or chronic. Sports medicine physicians can diagnose and treat injuries promptly, helping you recover faster and avoid further complications. Don’t wait until the pain becomes unbearable or the injury worsens—early treatment leads to better outcomes.

  • Improving Activity Levels or Performance: If you want to achieve optimal physical performance, then seeing a sports medicine physician is a great idea. They can assess your current fitness level, identify areas for improvement, and develop a customized plan to help you reach your goals while minimizing the risk of injury.


By recognizing the signs that indicate you should see a sports medicine physician and understanding the benefits of early intervention and performance optimization, you can stay healthy and active for the long term. It’s a win-win!


Common Conditions Treated By an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Physician

While there are many conditions that sports medicine physicians treat, some are more common than others. Below are examples of common injuries a sports medicine physician might encounter with active patients.



Sprains occur when ligaments—the tough bands of tissue that connect bones—stretch or tear. They often result from sudden movements or impacts and can lead to pain, swelling, and instability in the affected joint. Treatment may include rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), physical therapy, and in severe cases, surgery to repair the ligament.



Fractures, or broken bones, can occur as a result of trauma or overuse. They can range from hairline cracks to complete breaks and may cause pain, swelling, deformity, and difficulty moving the affected area. Depending on the severity of the fracture, treatment may include immobilization with a cast or splint, medication for pain management, and in some cases, surgery to realign and stabilize the bone.


Knee & Shoulder Injuries

Knee and shoulder injuries are common among athletes due to the demands placed on these joints during sports activities. Common knee injuries include ligament tears (such as the ACL or meniscus), patellar dislocations, and tendonitis (e.g., patellar or quadriceps). 


Shoulder injuries often involve rotator cuff tears, labral tears, and shoulder dislocations. Treatment may include physical therapy, bracing, injections, or surgery, depending on the specific injury.


Tendon, Ligament, and Muscle Injuries

Tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries can occur from overuse, sudden movements, or trauma. These injuries may cause pain, swelling, weakness, and limited mobility. Treatment often involves rest, physical therapy, bracing, and sometimes surgery to repair the damaged tissue. 


As you can see, orthopedic sports medicine physicians are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. Ultimately, their goal is to help athletes and active individuals recover from injuries and return to their favorite activities safely and effectively.


Now, we will discuss a brief overview of how to become a sports medicine physician.


Orthopedic sports medicine doctor wrapping patients foot


How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician

If you’re wondering what a sports medicine physician is and how to become one, then you’ve come to the right place. Granted, this is not an easy profession, and becoming a fully certified physician can take 10 to 12 years. 


First, you must complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a science-related field. After undergraduate studies, aspiring physicians must attend medical school and earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Next, you need to complete a residency program (typically 3-4 years) in either family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehabilitation.


Following residency, physicians interested in sports medicine must undergo additional training through a fellowship program in sports medicine. These fellowships typically last one to two years and focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sports-related injuries and conditions. Fellows receive hands-on experience working with athletes, team physicians, and sports medicine professionals.


After completing fellowship training, physicians can become board-certified in sports medicine through the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pediatrics, or the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians.


orthopedic sports medicine doctor performing on field eval of a player


Discover Your Path to Better Health with Dr. Hussamy

As you can see, orthopedic sports medicine is about more than just treating athletes’ injuries. It’s a profession dedicated to helping people get their mobility back on track. That’s why having an experienced orthopedic sports medicine physician is crucial to getting your activity levels where you want them to be.


With Dr. Hussamy‘s expertise and dedication, patients can trust they’re in good hands as they strive to achieve their fitness goals and live a healthy, active lifestyle. 

Visit our website to request an appointment today or call us at 772-213-9800 to reclaim your mobility!

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