Sports medicine is a subspecialty of orthopedics. So, to understand what sports medicine involves, it helps to have a broader understanding of what orthopedics as a whole encompasses. Orthopedics is a medical specialty that focuses on the various components of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.

Many orthopedists focus on subspecialties, one of them being sports medicine. These sports medicine doctors dedicate the majority of their practice to musculoskeletal injuries that typically occur while exercising or playing a sport. With that being said, many sports medicine physicians also treat conditions relating to sports that don’t necessarily affect the musculoskeletal system, such as asthma. What’s more, sports medicine doctors often provide advice to patients who haven’t injured themselves but are instead looking for tips on how to safely improve their performance. For example, a sports medicine physician might advise athletes—whether amateurs or professionals—on nutritional goals, supplements, or proper stretching techniques.

Common Sports Injuries

As was mentioned above, a sports medicine doctor has the orthopedics background necessary to treat almost any condition affecting the musculoskeletal system. However, some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Dislocations – When a bone is forced out of proper position, it can cause severe pain, as well as swelling, bruising, a visible deformity, and an inability to move the joint.
  • Fractures – There are numerous types of fractures, ranging from hairline fractures (where the bone features tiny cracks) to compound fractures (where the bone tears through the nearby skin).
  • Sprains – A sprain involves a stretched or torn ligament, which can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the joint.
  • Strains – Unlike a sprain, which affects a ligament, a strain involves a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. In addition to the symptoms caused by a sprain, a strain can lead to muscle spasms and weakness.
  • Shin splints – Repetitive motion can cause the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue surrounding the shinbone (the tibia) to become inflamed, leading to swelling and either sharp or aching pain.
  • Tendinitis – When a tendon becomes inflamed or otherwise irritated, it can cause pain (usually described as a dull, aching pain), swelling, tenderness, heat, redness, and a grating or crackling sensation.

It’s important to note that a sports medicine physician might treat someone who has sustained one of these sports-related injuries even if that person didn’t get injured while playing a sport. For example, a woman who sprained her ankle while walking down the sidewalk may end up being treated by a sports medicine doctor, simply because sprains are such a common sports injury.

Sports Medicine in Durham, NC & Surrounding Areas

If you’ve sustained a sports injury, or if you’re in good health but are looking for tips on how to improve your performance, you can turn to the specialists at North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic. We’ve been serving patients across the greater Durham, North Carolina, area since 2003, and our skilled team members focus on a variety of subspecialties, including sports medicine.

Contact North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic today to schedule a consultation with one of our sports medicine doctors. Our office is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we’d be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that fits into your schedule.