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The Difference Between Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine

It isn’t unusual to use the terms sports medicine and physical therapy interchangeably. However the two aren’t exactly the same things even though a patient may find themselves the patient of both fields at the same time. While compatible, the difference between physical therapy and sports medicine is clear. Both are effective for treating injuries, diseases and disorders of the muscle and skeletal systems of the body and both are useful for the prevention of future injury or disease symptom reoccurrence. By taking an individual look at these types of medical assistance, you will soon see the difference between physical therapy and sports medicine.

Let’s take a look at the field of physical therapy first. Unlike sports medicine, physical therapy as a whole is devoted to correcting any injury, disease, or disorder of the bones and muscles that can be treated with non invasive techniques. The focus is to provide patients with relief from pain, improve their muscle, joint, and bone function, while providing techniques the patient can use on their own for additional healing. The primary tools of a physical therapist are good diagnosing and evaluating skills, knowledge of the musculoskeletal system, and knowledge of which therapy is effective for each situation. One large difference between physical therapy and sports medicine is that physical therapy doesn’t only deal with sports related injuries or problems. Physical therapists can choose to specialize their careers with emphasis on things like pediatrics, geriatrics, and neurology. Other areas of expertise included in physical therapy are sports, cardiovascular sciences, and occupational therapy.

When you are looking at the difference between physical therapy and sports medicine, you certainly can’t overlook sports medicine. The type of medicine is solely used for sports related injuries and disorders. While sports physical therapy techniques are commonly used in addition to sports medicine, sports medicine may involve surgeries, procedures, and medications not used in physical therapy. Sports medicine practioners also can have specialty fields as well. Orthopedics and skeletal emphasis’s are common. Advanced study of how long term sporting activities and treating sports related injuries are always a part of this particular discipline.

Understanding the difference between physical therapy and sports medicine is key to determining how to best treat your physical problem. While they can and are commonly used together, each one has its own distinct benefit. Your medical care team can further help distinguish the two and point you in the right direction in terms of your health care needs. The important thing is take care of any injury, sports related or not, to make sure your body’s function in the years to come.

The difference between physical therapy and sports medicine is obvious. Although the two are often used together, each one has its own purpose and uses. Your doctor can give you advice on which specialists is right for your needs.


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