• VSON

What is Sports Medicine?



Sports medicine is a specialized branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries and conditions.


Regardless of age, sport, or ability level, athletes and active individuals alike depend on a healthy musculoskeletal system to perform at their highest aptitude.


However, when a sports-related injury occurs, it can take you out of the game for days, weeks, or even months at a time, dependent upon its severity.


Injuries and musculoskeletal pain are common occurrences in the sports community because athletes redefine their limits by pushing their bodies to physical exhaustion during training, practice, and competition.


What Are The Most Common Injuries Seen By A Sports Medicine Specialist?

Sports Medicine Specialists treat a wide range of injuries across sports.

Sports Medicine Specialists see and treat a wide range of injuries, such as:


  • Neck and shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff injuries and SLAP tears

  • Arm and elbow injuries, such as tennis elbow and fractures

  • Hand and wrist injuries, such as sprains and jammed fingers

  • Hip and knee injuries, such as a pulled groin and ligament tears (meniscus, ACL, MCL, and PCL)   

  • Upper leg injuries, such as a pulled quad or hamstring

  • Lower leg injuries, such as shin splints

  • Foot and ankle injuries, such as ankle sprains

What Makes Sports Medicine Surgeons Different?

Many sports injuries can be treated non-surgically but should be evaluated by a specialist.

Sports Medicine experts have dedicated their practices to the treatment of sports-related injuries, as well as to educating athletes on injury prevention, improving performance, and enhancing overall physical health.


They thoroughly understand that injuries sustained during activity are painful, unexpected, and often devastating, as they can postpone or derail your fitness goals as well as your daily routine.


Fortunately, many sports-related injuries can be treated through nonsurgical techniques, such as rehabilitative modalities, casting, bracing, medication, and injections.


Do All Sports Medicine Injuries Need Surgery?


Returning to your chosen activity at a high level should be a goal of every athlete.

Our sports medicine specialists know that a "return to play" is most often the goal of the patient, so they will turn to surgical intervention only after nonsurgical treatments have proven ineffective.


For instance, when you are seen by a Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery sports medicine provider, he will evaluate and diagnose your symptoms and work with you, as a team, to develop a personalized treatment plan to best accommodate your individual needs.


The Importance of Consulting Your Doctor Before Returning to Sports

Dr. Rick Cunningham and Dr. Bill Sterett are highly trained to treat sports medicine injuries.

Though it can be extremely discouraging to watch from the sidelines, it is critical that patients follow their doctors' orders exactly. The same can be said for their strengthening and rehabilitation programs.


Returning to play too quickly or without the proper rehabilitation can cause further injury.

Whether you have sustained an acute injury, such as an ACL tear or ankle sprain, or an overuse injury, such as shin splints or patellofemoral syndrome, it is imperative that you see a specialist with the highest level of training in sports medicine so that you can get on the road to recovery and get back in the game quickly and safely.


To consult with a sports medicine specialist at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery, please request an appointment online here.