What is Sports Medicine?

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Image of Dr. Boyd Haynes examining a patientBoyd W. Haynes III, MD

As a fellowship-trained Sports Medicine physician, I see patients who have injuries related to playing sports or who have special musculoskeletal issues that may present obstacles to their participating in the sport of their choice.  I also work with athletes, both amateur and professional, to help them prevent sports-related injuries. 

When did the field of Sports Medicine become such a big deal?  Obviously, we have had athletes throughout the history of mankind, but the field of Sports Medicine really took off in the late 1900’s as sports became a big money-making industry.  Professional teams invested millions of dollars in superstar athletes and wanted to keep them on the field – healthy and playing.  If they were injured, they couldn’t play and make money for the team owners.  Professional teams started hiring Orthopaedic and Primary Care physicians to care for the health of their players and voila, the field of Sports Medicine was born.

Today, Sports Medicine is a recognized specialty in the United States that requires extensive and specific medical training.   Besides having to complete medical school, internships and residencies, most orthopaedic Sports Medicine physicians undergo fellowship training in this field, typically consisting of a year or more of seeing only those patients with sports-related injuries.  Many of us also play sports ourselves – I love to play volleyball and have served as my team’s physician for decades.

At OSC, my average day consists of seeing runners, weightlifters, football, volleyball and baseball players, Crossfit athletes, ballerinas and gymnasts, Pickleball players, you name it.  My job is to help them prevent injury, maximize performance through appropriate training and to help them recover when an injury does occur.  I also give advice on the proper nutrition for their sport (ballerinas eat differently than bodybuilders), how to set up a safe training schedule, advise them on workouts and how to build and maintain strength and flexibility. 

The most common injuries I see are tendon and ligament tears, muscle strains and sprains and overuse injuries to the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist and ankle.  Occasionally, I will see fractures or more complex and traumatic injuries that require immediate surgery.  Thankfully, most sports injuries can be treated conservatively, which means relative rest, ice, taking anti-inflammatory medications, Physical Therapy and perhaps splinting or bracing.

The biggest challenge I face when treating athletes is that they usually don’t take too kindly to being told to rest for any lengthy period.  I have had runners tell me that they would rather die than not be able to run again.  My job is to help them understand that with significant modifications to their training and ample time for rest after injury, that most of them will be able to compete again and do so successfully.  They have to learn that the short-term behavior changes I recommend are for their long-term benefit, so they can get back to the sport they love.