Sports medicine is an ever-evolving, comprehensive field of health care in which practitioners work to prevent, diagnose, and treat pain and injury related to physical fitness. Decades ago, sports medicine was primarily for professional athletes, but today you might work with a specialist for issues stemming from work or play, or to increase physical activity.


Also known as sports and exercise medicine (SEM), sports medicine teams include doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, nutritionists, kinesiologists, nurses, athletic trainers, and others. Now that exercise is prescribed in heath and recovery plans, you might also work with a sports medicine specialist after you’ve had a heart attack, if you have arthritis, if you’ve had a concussion or head injury, for repetitive motion injuries, or as part of a wellness plan.


Sports medicine specialists also help people with exercise-induced asthma, heat-related illnesses, and mental health issues like eating and exercise disorders. Pediatric sports medicine specialists treat children and teens for these issues and other bone, muscle, and joint conditions.

How Do You Know if You Need Sports Medicine?

Despite the increase in work-related wellness plans and mandatory physical exams, you’ll most often seek a sports medicine specialist when you have a problem. In the US, sports medicine doctors are certified in orthopedics, emergency medicine, family practice, pediatrics, or internal medicine, and also have a two-year fellowship in sports medicine. For this reason, talking with your primary doctor about your issues or concerns can help you find the right sports medicine specialist.


Reasons to seek a sports medicine doctor include:

  • Sudden pain, swelling, muscle weakness or loss of movement after exercising
  • Pain stemming from your exercise that continues after you’re done
  • Restricted movement in a joint or your back that’s getting worse
  • You’re hesitant to start exercising because of an old injury
  • Exercise was prescribed, but don’t know how to start
  • You have health issues that exercise may exacerbate
  • To prevent injuries during intense athletic training
  • You have chronic back or joint pain from working


If you think you’ve broken a bone or torn a muscle, tendon, or ligament, please get emergency care first. Once you’re stabilized, schedule an appointment with a sports medicine doctor at the . We have orthopedic surgeons who specialize in sports medicine, non-surgical treatments, physical therapists, and same-day radiology and imaging. We can help you get moving and stay active!