A sports medicine doctor is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries related to athletics. These doctors often work with athletes at all levels, from amateur to professional, and are trained in both the prevention and management of sports-related injuries. In addition, sports medicine doctors can treat patients with exercise-related injuries.
The most common injuries treated by sports medicine doctors are sprains, strains, and fractures. When issues arise in the lower leg or foot, podiatrists with sports medicine training (sports medicine podiatrists) are generally the go-to experts. In addition to treating injuries, sports medicine doctors also work with patients to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
Below is what you can expect from your first visit to a sports medicine physician, which may very well be a sports medicine podiatrist, depending on the injury or issue at hand.
Review of Medical History, Physical Examination, and Diagnostic Imaging
During the first visit to a sports medicine doctor, the doctor will review your medical history and ask about your symptoms, treatments you’ve tried, and activities that you were doing when you experienced the injury or symptoms. Next, the sports medicine doctor will perform a physical examination to diagnose your injury. This will include a thorough evaluation of the affected area, as well as any other areas that may be causing or contributing to your pain. They may also order imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI, to further assess the extent of your issue.
The sports medicine doctor will then create a treatment plan based on the diagnosis. This may or may not be done during the first appointment. For instance, if you are given a prescription to get diagnostic testing done, your treatment plan will have to wait until the doctor receives the results from the test and can fully assess the issue and come to a diagnosis.
In a lot of cases, however, sports medicine doctors can diagnose issues during the first appointment, and thus, issue a treatment plan right away. The following are examples of treatment plans that may be created by sports medicine doctors:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE): This is a common treatment plan for injuries such as sprains and strains. It involves resting the injured area, applying ice to reduce swelling, using compression bandages to support the area, and elevating the injury above heart level to reduce swelling.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy and rehabilitation is part of any injured patient’s treatment program. Your sports medicine doctor will refer you to a physical therapist who can help stretch and strengthen muscles around the injury site and improve your range of motion, and gradually help restore you to full function.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissue or bones. Sports medicine doctors who are trained to perform surgery may recommend this option if non-surgical methods fail. Sports medicine surgeons can use minimally invasive techniques that help get you back to your sport as soon as possible. Surgery is the last resort in most cases. Non-surgical treatments are almost always preferred when treating sports injuries.
Injury Prevention Plan
Sports medicine doctors are a great resource for injury prevention. Your doctor can create individualized fitness plans, warm-up and cool-down routines, stretching exercises, and weight training programs. These plans are designed to help reduce the risk of injury during physical activity and improve your physical condition and athletic performance. A sports medicine doctor is, therefore, a great resource regardless of whether you are injured or not.
Sports Medicine Podiatrists in South Texas
The sports medicine podiatrists at The Podiatry Group of South Texas can provide expert treatment for your foot or ankle injury or condition. We are highly experienced in treating athletes and weekend warriors and are even trained in minimally invasive surgery, should the need arise. To schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine podiatrists, call our podiatry office nearest you or use our convenient online appointment request form.