Sports medicine is an “umbrella term” used to define specialties in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries related to participation in sports, physical activity and/or exercise. Sports medicine is difficult to define because it is not a single specialty, but an area that involves a wide variety of health care professionals, researchers, and educators from various disciplines.
The sports medicine “team” can include specialty physicians, surgeons, strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, team coaches, certified athletic trainers as well as the athlete. Despite this wide scope, there is a tendency to assume all sport-related issues are musculoskeletal in nature and thus an orthopaedic specialty.
There is much more to sports medicine than just musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Illness or injury in sport can be caused by many factors – from environmental to physiological to psychological. Consequently, sports medicine can encompass an array of specialties, including primary care, cardiology, pulmonology, rehabilitation medicine, orthopaedic surgery, nutrition, dentistry, opthalmology, exercise physiology, and biomechanics.