Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons

Sports Medicine: Medical Services for Sports-Related Injuries

The medical treatment for sports injuries has its own branch, known as sports medicine or sports and exercise medicine (SEM). The field is focused on both treating and preventing sports-related injuries to athletes and non-athletes alike while also educating patients on better strategies for training.

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is a specialized medical area where physicians are trained to diagnose and treat injuries that occur during sports activities or musculoskeletal injuries; it is a related field to orthopedics, and it is common for sports medicine professionals to work within the same facility or alongside orthopedic doctors.

It’s important to note that sports medicine isn’t exclusive to athletes or injuries. Sports physicians are extensively trained in preventing injury and can provide therapies or treatments for musculoskeletal injuries that occur in a wide variety of exercises or activities, such as weight lifting or yoga.

A patient wearing kinesio tape on her shoulder as her doctor helps her stretch.

Common Sports Injuries

Many injuries can occur in the course of training or playing sports, ranging from a sprain to fractures, potentially causing chronic conditions or ending a patient’s ability to enjoy that particular activity if proper treatment or care isn’t sought out.

Here are the most common injuries seen by sports medicine physicians:

  • Rotator cuff injury: Inflammation of the tendons or bursae surrounding the shoulder joint, often brought on by either overuse or a sudden impact.
  • Hamstring strain: Activities and sports with extensive running, jumping, sudden starts, and stops may lead to excessive stretching or tearing of the muscles along the rear of the thigh which can cause this injury.
  • Golfer’s elbow: A type of tendinitis and overuse injury that causes pain in the inner elbow, potentially extending to the forearm and wrist.
  • Runner’s knee: A condition that causes pain or tenderness near or beneath the kneecap, sometimes called jumper’s knee.
  • Tendon tear: A rupture in the tendon, typically occurring around the knee. This injury is more common in jumping and running sports. 
  • Tennis elbow: A repetitive strain injury affecting the elbow tendons, where minor tears and inflammation develop.
  • Fractures: bone fractures, or breaks, can occur in any part of the body as a result of an impact or degenerative disease. 
  • Achilles tendonitis: Caused by irritation, overstretching, or tearing of the Achilles tendon, it’s the body’s largest tendon and plays a critical role in walking, running, jumping, standing on tiptoes, or climbing stairs. This overuse injury can either become chronic or result in a complete tear (Achilles tendon rupture), requiring surgery.

Common Medical Treatments for Sports-Related Injuries

There are a variety of treatments available for injuries related to sports, ranging from non-invasive care to surgical procedures. Here are some of the common treatments provided in sports medicine:

  • Physical Therapy: Exercises tailored to enhance strength, flexibility, and functionality post-injury.
  • Surgery: In cases of substantial joint damage or torn ligaments, surgery may be necessary. Minimally invasive techniques, like arthroscopic surgery, are widely used in the field of sports medicine.
  • Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective for pain and inflammation management. Depending on the injury or condition, other medications may also be prescribed.
  • Injections: Targeted inflammation reduction can be performed through corticosteroid injections. For conditions like osteoarthritis, hyaluronic acid injections may be given to enhance joint lubrication.
  • Orthotics: Tailored shoe inserts to help with or treat various foot and ankle issues.
  • Rehabilitation and Exercise Programs: These programs aim to reinstate strength, flexibility, and endurance following an injury.
  • Therapeutic Modalities: These treatments, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat/ice therapy, and others encourage healing and alleviate pain.
  • Diet and Nutrition Counseling: Sports medicine specialists may offer guidance on appropriate nutrition and hydration to help heal after an injury or better performance
  • Concussion Management: Cognitive rest, gradual return to play protocols, and other interventions are used to address symptoms and support recovery.
  • Preventative Care: This involves injury prevention programs, conditioning exercises, and instruction on proper technique and body mechanics for sports activities.

Our Community Athletic Trainers

Meet some of the members of our sports injury team, our Community Athletic Trainers.

Profile picture of Katie Olinger.

Katie Olinger, ATC, LAT

Profile picture of Chandler Batiste.

Chandler Batiste, ATC