Sports Medicine

What Does A Sports Medicine Physician Do?

A sports medicine physician specializes in rehabilitation and physical medicine. This includes physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Since the late 20th century, sports medicine has emerged as a distinct health care field. It can be a surgical or non-surgical medical specialty.

A sports medicine physician helps athletes of all ages when they suffer an injury doing any type of physical activity. They aim to get the patient back in action as quickly and safely as possible.

Since their background is in musculoskeletal medicine, sports medicine physicians often help patients suffering from certain conditions — whether they are athletes or not. Musculoskeletal injuries (most of a sports medicine physician’s focus) affect everyone. For someone who is just beginning a training or exercise program, they are also excellent resources.

Even though certain types of injuries vary by sport, sports medicine physicians most often treat these common conditions:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Cartilage injuries.
  • Concussions and other head injuries.
  • Exercise-induced asthma.
  • Fractures.
  • Heat illnesses.
  • Knee and shoulder injuries.
  • Tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries

What Sports Medicine Doctors Are Near Me?

Dr. Peter Howard is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder surgery, sports medicine, and arthroscopy with offices in New Port Richie and Palm Harbor, serving the greater Tampa Bay area.

For all appointments and inquiries, please call (727) 848-4249 to request an appointment. You can also schedule a telehealth visit with Dr. Howard at 727-334-7309 or 727-848-4249. Most major insurances now cover telehealth visits. No special software or apps are needed!

Why Is Sports Medicine Important?

Sports medicine physicians are specifically trained to care for athletes, active individuals, and fitness professionals. They understand how sports and exercise impact their patient’s bodies – things such as concussions and repetitive motion injuries. They work closely with physical therapists to develop tailored treatment plans that suit each patient’s specific needs.

Sports medicine physicians have an in-depth knowledge of how athletes use their bodies during play and practice. This allows them to provide patients with instructions and expert advice on preventing injuries and avoiding re-injury. They help professional and novice athletes make important “return to play” decisions. They also conduct pre-participation physical exams to ensure their patients are ready to resume activities.

Sports medicine specialists often develop tailored training programs around an athlete’s individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses for enhanced athletic performance. They have the knowledge and tools to evaluate an athlete’s anatomical strengths and weaknesses, make training regimen recommendations, and identify areas for improvement.

What Does It Take To Be A Sports Medicine Physician?

In addition to medical school and residency, sports medicine physicians complete a one- to two-year sports medicine fellowship. During this fellowship, they further their education in sports injuries, usually while working as a doctor for a high school or college sports team. Some sports medicine fellowships include the surgical treatment of sports injuries. While some surgical sports medicine fellowships focus on different sports-related injuries, others focus on sports-related injuries to a particular body part, such as a joint or shoulder.

Dr. Howard has extensive training in sports medicine, shoulder surgery, minimally invasive arthroscopy, and orthopedics at several prestigious universities and medical centers. After obtaining his undergraduate degree with Honors from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Howard completed his medical degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He then trained in orthopedics at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine. He also served as chief resident at Bronson Methodist Hospital and Borgess Medical Center.

Dr. Howard trained in shoulder surgery, sports medicine, and minimally invasive arthroscopy at the Houston Methodist Hospital for additional sub-specialization. During his time there, he worked with and cared for the Houston Astros, Texans, Dynamo, Rockets, the Rice University Owls, and many high school teams. Dr. Howard is a team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin Blue Jays, and River Ridge High School.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I see a sports medicine doctor? When you have an injury, what type of doctor should you see? Does a college athlete injured during a football game see the same type of physician as an active individual who was injured playing football with their children? Both types of injuries, and patients, can be treated by sports medicine physicians.

What does a sports medicine doctor treat? Sports medicine helps people improve their athletic performance – regardless of their level. It also helps patients recover from injury and to prevent future injuries. A few common conditions are shoulder, knee, leg, back, and hand injuries.

Can sports medicine doctors prescribe steroids? Sports physicians prescribe corticosteroids to athletes for conditions such as inflammation, asthma, and allergies. Corticosteroids are widely used to treat various medical conditions and can reduce inflammation. Injections are commonly used in sports medicine. They are also used for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Oral forms are more often prescribed for allergies and asthma. Sports physicians should be familiar with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) regulations and ensure patients get therapeutic-use exemptions to take corticosteroids during competition when it’s medically necessary.

Do sports medicine doctors perform surgery? Some sports medicine physicians are surgeons who repair damage to tendons, ligaments, and joints. Still, a good sports medicine physician will exhaust all forms of non-surgical care before moving to surgery.

Non-surgical interventions include orthotic devices and rehabilitative athletic equipment to control or limit movement and prevent and manage injuries. Today, many orthopedic surgeries are cutting-edge micro-invasive procedures that use to require a large open surgery. Orthopedic surgeons specializing in sports medicine have been trained to treat all musculoskeletal structures used in training, sports activity, and exercise. They have advanced knowledge of physical conditioning, performance and health, soft tissue biomechanics, and field evaluation. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), approximately half of all orthopedic patients need a surgical solution to heal injuries, improve function and ease pain.

Are sports medicine and physical therapy the same? Within the context of sports, sports medicine’s goal is to treat and prevent injuries. A sports medicine doctor understands each sport’s movements and physical demands. They have a better understanding of the cause of your injury than other doctors because they know the required physical motions of the sport. A sports medicine doctor recommends the best treatment for recovering and returning to the same motions of the sport. Additionally, a sports medicine specialist works with you and teaches the proper body mechanics to use in your sport to prevent further injury.

Physical therapists work with anyone to aid in recovering from an injury, regardless of the age or sports involved. Sports medicine doctors often send their patients to a physical therapist and vice versa. The main difference between the two fields is that sports medicine uses a variety of treatments, including surgery. Physical therapy uses only stretching and strengthening exercises and tools to help aid recovery.

Is sports medicine the same as athletic training? Athletic trainers are integral to many high school, college, and professional sports medicine teams. On the court or playing field, they act as the “eyes and ears” to help keep the athletes safe and healthy. They are valuable team members, assisting in treating and preventing the athletes’ injuries. Athletic trainers handle emergency and non-emergency situations. Certified Athletic Trainers are trained in 5 main areas: 1. Injury prevention, 2. Assessment, 3. Management, 4. Treatment, and 5. Rehabilitation.

What is orthopedic sports medicine? A subspecialty of orthopedic medicine, sports medicine deals with the physical fitness, preventive care, and treatment of amateur and professional athletes. Orthopedic sports medicine also treats those who have suffered an injury and are trying to regain full function. Commonly treated conditions within this subspecialty, include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
  • Arthritis
  • Dislocations and separations
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury
  • Nerve compression
  • Overuse injuries
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury
  • Rotator cuff pain and injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Torn cartilage
  • Trauma and fractures
  • Turf toe