Sports Medicine

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What is a sports physician?

Sport and exercise medicine is a specialist branch of medicine which deals in all aspects of health in an exercising individual – from treating elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes to giving advice on how best to start exercising in a sedentary individual.

A sports physician often has considerable skills in musculoskeletal medicine and the treatment of injuries. They may have skills in understanding why an athlete is experiencing pain on exercise and can manage overuse injuries such as stress fractures, tendinopathy, and ligament injuries.

They inevitably work in a team environment alongside physiotherapists, coaches, and strength and conditioning practitioners to manage injuries, and they have a close working relationship with surgical colleagues when the injury requires this.

Is a sports physician the best person to see?

Sometimes an injury is difficult to diagnose or has had prolonged physiotherapy without success. It may be best to find out at an early stage what is going on in order to minimise disruption and get back to your chosen sport. The sports physician may be able to discuss and direct the best treatments and biomechanical correction and point you in the right direction of the most appropriate practitioner.

Conditions such as a groin strain may involve a physiotherapist, conditioning coach, a skills coach to alter technique, a general surgeon to repair a hernias, an orthopaedic surgeon for major hip pathology, or a podiatrist to help with gait. For a GP or patient it can be a confusing choice.

Is sports medicine right for you?

Here at the Nuffield Bristol, we offer a seamless service of practitioners to allow you the best possible treatment. Getting the right diagnosis from the start during a sport and exercise medicine consultation can help to direct any treatments and to ensure your injury is treated appropriately right from the start.

As part of the team, our sports specialised physiotherapy and osteopathic services focus on the highest standard of care to maintain your fitness whilst treating the injury. As you progress through to the later stages of rehabilitation, our sports therapists and trainers can oversee the last stages of your return to sport and ensure your return is as safe as possible.

Where your injury requires surgery, we have an extensive range of orthopaedic surgeons, back surgeons and other specialists. We also have wide network of trusted external practitioners such as podiatrists and sports nutrition and sports psychologists with whom we have close links.

How can a sport physician help you?

  • Liaise with your physiotherapist to focus treatment
  • Biomechanical evaluation – looking for clues to your injury in the way you run or play sport
  • Work with surgical (general and orthopaedic) colleges to identify injuries that require surgical intervention and help plan – pre-operative ‘pre-habilitation’ to ensure that recovery is maximised after surgery
  • Help and advise in the rehabilitation process working with physiotherapy, rehabilitation coaches and others to enable you to return to exercise
  • Work with personal trainers and others to support to encourage and continue best practice when exercising
  • To advise on how to exercise when returning from injury, when you have an illness or how to use exercise to overcome a medical problem
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