Sports Medicine

Whether you have a torn ligament, a sprain or want to restore or improve your mobility and agility, you can consider sports medicine as a pathway to health. Both athletes and non-athletes alike can find relief and improvement from our range of sports medicine services. At Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, we want to make sure that you receive the right treatment to ensure you maintain a great quality of life and the best performance for years to come.

What Is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine, also called sports and exercise medicine, is a branch of medicine that deals with musculoskeletal medicine but is more focused on physical fitness and treatment and prevention of sports- and exercise-related injuries. The main goal of sports medicine is to promote safe and effective exercise for people to achieve their personal fitness goals. Sports medicine covers a wide range of conditions and is a combination of different specific principles, such as the following:

  • Sports science
  • Exercise physiology
  • Orthopedics
  • Biomechanics
  • Sports nutrition
  • Sports psychology

What Is a Doctor of Sports Medicine Called?

A doctor of sports medicine is called a sports medicine physician. Sports medicine physicians have specialized training in treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries or illnesses. The primary patients of sports medicine physicians are athletes, sports teams or individuals who have an active lifestyle. Sports medicine physicians focus on nonsurgical treatments.

In addition, sports medicine physicians also cover non-musculoskeletal injuries or illnesses, such as concussions, exercise-induced asthma, overtraining and fatigue, return to play issues after being sick or injured, nutrition and training and conditioning. To treat with these conditions, sports medicine physicians work with a team, namely physical therapists, certified athletic trainers and nutritionists.

Do Sports Medicine Physicians Only Treat Athletes?

No. People who have injuries or illnesses that are common in athletes, people who want to become active or people who have fitness goals can also consult our sports medicine physicians.

What Is the Difference Between Sports Medicine and Orthopedics?

Both deal with the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments), but sports medicine is focused on the nonsurgical treatments of injuries and illnesses while orthopedics covers the surgical treatment options for these injuries and illnesses. Most of the common sports or athletic injuries are nonsurgical so if there’s a sports-related injury, the sports medicine physician can cover the nonsurgical treatment, provide referrals with physical therapists and other professionals and if there’s a need for surgery, can provide a referral to the orthopedic surgeon.

Common Sports Injuries

The most common types of sports injuries are as follows:

  • Sprains – overstretching or tearing of ligaments.
  • Strains – overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons.
  • Knee injuries – most common of which are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and patellofemoral syndrome. ACL tears occur when there is a sudden stop or change in direction while patellofemoral syndrome occurs when there is a repetitive movement in your kneecap and thigh bone.
  • Swollen muscles – a natural reaction to injuries.
  • Achilles tendon rupture – one of the most common athletic foot injuries. It occurs when the Achilles tendon breaks or ruptures causing sudden pain and difficulty walking.
  • Fracture – also called broken bone.
  • Dislocation – occurs when a bone is forced out of the socket, which causes pain and swelling.
  • Rotator cuff injury – a tear in one of the four pieces of muscles forming the rotator cuff, which keeps the shoulder from moving.

Sports Injuries Treatment

The PRICE method can treat mild sports injuries like sprains and strains. Price stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Protection – protect the affected area by providing support.
  • Rest – avoid strenuous activities until your injury is resolved.
  • Ice – apply an ice pack to the affected region for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours.
  • Compression – use elastic compression bandages to limit swelling.
  • Elevation – keep your injury raised level to your heart or higher. This can help with the swelling of the injured body part.

Treatment options for other athletic-related injuries include the following:

  • Medications – for pain relief.
  • Immobilization – for prevention of future damage using slings, splints and casts by reducing movement of the affected area.
  • Physiotherapy – for improving range of motion, strengthening the surrounding muscles and returning to normal function that uses techniques such as massage, manipulation and exercises.
  • Corticosteroid injection – for relief of severe or persistent inflammation.
  • Surgery and procedures – for severe injuries such as badly broken bones using wires, plates, screws or rods.

Sports Injuries Prevention

Here are some tips to avoid these sports-related injuries:

  • Learn the proper technique – sometimes, your posture and timing can highly affect the quality of the exercise and the way you move during an activity. (e.g., bending the knees at the right time can prevent hip injury).
  • Have the proper equipment – ill-fitting shoes or equipment can increase the risk of an injury.
  • Don’t overdo it – listen to your body and learn to know when to stop. If you experienced a previous injury, make sure you are fully healed before going back to your usual routine.
  • Cool down – make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your activity.
  • Resume activity slowly – this applies to people who have previously been injured. Do not overdo your rest, which can slow down healing. Ease back in to your daily activities.

When Do You See A Sports Medicine Doctor?

If the PRICE method is not successful in treating your injury, see a sports medicine physician when there are signs of swelling or there is pain when you shift your weight to the affected area. If the location of pain is the same location with a previous injury, please consult our sports medicine doctor in San Luis Obispo immediately.

Sports Medicine at Tenet Health Central Coast

At Tenet Health Central Coast - San Luis Obispo, we have a team of sports medicine physicians, orthopedic specialists, nurses, physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists who can provide you with expert care. If surgery is recommended, we offer advanced techniques in orthopedic surgery that enable orthopedic surgeons to achieve a new level of precision — so you can heal faster with minimal scarring.

Our sports medicine specialists in San Luis Obispo always begin by exploring nonsurgical options, which can include medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation. Sierra Vista Sports Medicine works to help you recover faster and get you back to the activities you enjoy again.

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