sports medicine, branch of medicine concerned with physical fitness and with the treatment and prevention of injuries and other disorders related to sports. Knee, leg, back, and shoulder injuries; stiffness and pain in joints; tendinitis; "tennis elbow" ; and dehydration are some common conditions that may be involved. Treatment and prevention include exercise programs for increasing strength, flexibility, and endurance; physical therapy; fitness tests; advice concerning nutrition and fluid replacement; and use of protective equipment. Surgery may be needed to treat some injuries. Sports medicine is also concerned with the abuse of so-called performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids. The specialty was initially practiced primarily by physicians associated with professional sports teams, but with increased interest in amateur sports and physical fitness programs in the 1970s and 1980s, it grew rapidly.
Sports medicine is a multidisciplinary field involving physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals trained in diagnosis, treatment, research, education, and prevention of athletic injuries. This team of professionals works together to enable an athlete to safely return to his or her sport as soon as possible after an injury or medical problem. These professionals also participate in research activities that further the understanding of different types of injuries and the human body's reaction to these injuries. Important facets of sports medicine are the pre-participation physical and the education of athletes, coaches, and parents in conditioning techniques in an attempt to prevent injuries and help athletes of all levels reach their full potential.
(see also: Physical Activity; Prevention; Primary Prevention )