A sports medicine physician treats athletes and non-athletes alike. They’re highly trained to treat injuries to your musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, muscles and joints. They don’t perform surgery, but they can treat several conditions like sprains, strains, tears and breaks.
A sports medicine physician is a highly trained healthcare provider who specializes in treating your musculoskeletal system. Your musculoskeletal system includes your bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues. Sports medicine physicians treat injuries caused by active lifestyles for both athletes and non-athletes alike.
A sports medicine physician assistant (PA) is a healthcare provider who works with a sports medicine physician. A PA can do some of the same things that a physician can do, but they require supervision from a physician. A PA doesn’t have to attend medical school, but they’re highly trained in sports medicine and they’re board certified.
Sports medicine physicians and orthopaedic surgeons both specialize in treating the human body’s musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, muscles and joints. The main difference is that orthopaedic surgeons perform surgery on these parts of your body, and sports medicine physicians don’t operate on your body. An estimated 90% of all sports-related injuries don’t require surgical treatment.
A sports medicine physician can:
In addition, a sports medicine physician can treat:
Sports medicine physicians need at least 12 years of education to earn their qualifications to treat patients. Their education typically consists of:
After completing their education, sports medicine physicians need to pass national certification exams in sports medicine.
A sports medicine physician is usually board-certified in one or several of the following areas in addition to sports medicine:
Sports medicine physicians are well-known for treating athletes. You may see them on the sidelines of major sporting events. But sports medicine physicians treat anyone who has an injury or non-surgical concern regarding their musculoskeletal system. You can see a sports medicine physician if you’re looking to start physical activities, participate in light physical exercise programs or are a competitive athlete.
You should visit a sports medicine physician if you:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sports medicine physicians are experts who take care of your musculoskeletal system. You can find these providers on the sidelines of major sporting events or at your local hospital, clinic or rehabilitation center. You can see a sports medicine physician if you have an injury to your bones, muscles, tendons or joints. You don’t have to be an athlete to see a sports medicine physician. They can help anyone improve their overall health and activity levels.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/13/2023.
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