What exactly is a sports medicine specialist, and how is one different from a physical therapist?
Sports medicine’s goal is to treat and prevent injuries, within the context of sports. A sports medicine specialist understands the movements and physical demands that each sport requires. For example, if you play volleyball, a sports medicine doctor will have a better understanding of the cause of your injury than another doctor, because he or she knows the required physical motions of volleyball.
When it comes to treatment, a sports medicine doctor will recommend the treatment best for recovering and returning to the same motions as before in volleyball (or soccer, football, etc.) Additionally, a sports medicine specialist will work with you and teach you the proper body mechanics to use in your sport, with the goal of preventing further injury.
Physical therapists work with anyone – regardless of age or sports involvement – to aid in recovering from an injury. Oftentimes sports medicine specialists will send their patients to a physical therapist – and vice versa. Aside from the sports focus, the main difference between the two fields is that a sports medicine specialist offers a variety of treatments, including surgery. Physical therapy, on the other hand, uses only stretching and strengthening exercises and tools to help foster orthopedic recovery.