Sports medicine is a particular branch of medicine that relates to treatment and prevention of injury brought on by sports and/or exercise. And, contrary to popular opinion, sports medicine is not only for elite or professional athletes. Rather, it is a specialty for orthopedic doctors and surgeons who are incredibly well-studied in common sports injuries that athletes of all abilities may face, and well-versed on solutions.
Who are sports medicine doctors?
Sports physicians typically work with athletes, trainers, entire sports teams and even major sports organizations as a resource for athletes who may be working through or are at risk for a sports-related injury. While some sports physicians focus on treatment and consultations, others are also fully licensed orthopedic surgeons who specialize in sports-related injuries and can provide full-service support to their patients. Primary care sports physicians, on the other hand, do not perform surgeries but can recommend surgeons and help expedite a process should surgery be necessary.
What do sports medicine doctors treat?
Sports injuries are those that commonly affect athletes due to injury on the field, overtraining, or repetition or overuse. Common injuries treated by sports medicine doctors include ACL tears of the knee, ankle sprains and strains, tennis elbow, Achilles’ tendonitis, shin splints, and rotator cuff injuries. While any area of the body can be impacted by an injury during sports (say, getting hit in the face during a soccer game), that does not mean this is a sports injury, it just happened to have occurred during the play of sports. Sports medicine is most often orthopedic in nature, with injuries affecting the bones, muscles, joints, and tendons.
Sports Medicine: A typical day
As noted, a sports physician or a sports orthopedic surgeon can help you with more than just an injury. They’re also the ideal specialist to consult for prevention, physical therapy plans and long-term treatment beyond surgery. Sports physicians not only help you plan out a course of treatment for physical therapy but can also assess what exercises are hurting your condition and what exercises can help you strengthen your body parts that are at risk. For many athletes, their sports medicine doctor is part of their personal staff of coaches, trainers, and physical therapists to keep injuries at bay.
Sports medicine philosophy
Athletes are passionate about their sports, which define who they are and what they do. Therefore, the last thing athletes of any ability want to hear is that they have to sit out a season or find a new sport. Sports medicine doctors, many of whom were or continue to be athletes themselves, know this all too well and will do everything in their ability to get the athlete healthy and back in the game. Most sports medicine doctors will take a holistic approach to wellness, which may include physical therapy, pain management, regenerative medicine to include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapies, and non-invasive techniques such as acupuncture or dry needling. Again, the objective is to not only have you winning the game but victorious over pain and injury.
In Little Rock, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Hefley is devoted to treating a broad range of conditions affecting the shoulder, hip, and knee, both operatively and non-operatively. As part of Bowen Hefley Orthopedics, a multispecialty orthopedic group practice, Dr. Hefley is focused on improving the quality of life for all his patients. Dr. Hefley subspecializes in sports medicine and is an expert in return-to-play protocols that can get athletes back to their sport quickly and stronger than before their injury.
To learn about sports medicine or get a medical opinion on a sports-related injury, speak to one of our trained staff with your questions or concerns. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Hefley, call (800) 336-2412, or you can use our convenient online appointment request form. He sees patients in our Little Rock and North Little Rock offices.