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Published on July 29, 2020

What is Sports Medicine?

Coach helps player during soccer game.

If you or your child is hurt while exercising, playing sports or participating in some type of physical activity, a sports medicine provider can provide the specialized care you need to heal and return to the activities you enjoy most.

Sports Medicine providers have significant specialized training in both the treatment and prevention of illness and injury, and you do not need to be a competitive athlete to benefit from their expertise.

“While our training is ideally suited to providing comprehensive care for athletes and sports teams, we also care for active individuals who are looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Thomas Meares Green, an orthopedic surgeon with UNC Orthopedics at Goldsboro. “A sports medicine physician can also treat athletes at the youth level and people who work in physically-demanding jobs, like in construction.”

A former student athlete himself, Dr. Green specializes in shoulder, knee, elbow and hip conditions. At UNC Orthopedics, he performs ACL reconstructions, direct anterior total hip Tommy John procedures, in addition to knee and shoulder arthroscopic procedures.

Sports medicine healthcare providers have special training to restore function to injured patients so they can get moving again as soon as possible. Experts in preventing illness and injury in active people, these providers often also work alongside physical therapists, certified athletic trainers and nutritionists.

According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, roughly 90% of all sports injuries do not require surgical treatment. A sports medicine provider can maximize non-operative treatment and guide referrals to physical and occupational therapies. Non-operative treatments focus on rehabilitation and non-invasive modalities.

Trained as both a sports medicine provider and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Green is also skilled in providing surgical treatment, when it’s needed.

Some common problems sports medicine providers treat include acute injuries like sprains, strains, knee and shoulder injuries and fractures and overuse injuries, like rotator cuff, tendonitis and stress fractures, as well as osteoarthritis.

If you or your child has a major injury during exercise or sports, it’s best to seek immediate care in the Emergency Department. If you experience severe pain, swelling, numbness and an inability to put any weight on the injured area, you can ask your primary care provider for a referral to a sports medicine specialist.

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