What is a Sports Medicine Doctor?

A sports medicine doctor focuses on improving athletic performance, treating musculoskeletal injuries and preventing future injuries. A sports injury occurs to the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and joints. A sports injury typically happens during a sporting activity or exercise. Jervis Yau, MD is a sports medicine doctor in the greater Santa Barbara, California area who specializes in treating injuries to the shoulder, knee, hip, elbow, ankle and all sports related injuries.

Types of Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are classified as acute or chronic. An acute injury occurs suddenly, like a sprained ankle or broken bone. Chronic injuries occur over time. Arthritis, stress fractures and tennis elbow are all classified as chronic injuries.

Sports injuries can be caused by a number of reasons such as a traumatic event, poor training practices or improper gear. Not warming up or stretching enough before play or exercise can also lead to an injury.

Some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Ankle sprain: symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Bruises: a blow can cause small bleeds into the skin.
  • Concussion: mild reversible brain injury from a blow to the head, which may be associated with loss of consciousness. Symptoms include headache, dizziness and short-term memory loss.
  • Cuts and abrasions: are usually caused by falls. The knees and hands are particularly prone.
  • Dehydration: losing too much fluid can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Groin strain: symptoms include pain and swelling.
  • Hamstring strain: symptoms include pain, swelling and bruising.
  • Knee joint injuries: symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. The ligaments, tendons or cartilage can be affected.
  • Stress fractures: The impact of repeated jumping or running on hard surfaces can eventually stress and crack bone in the lower limbs.

Sports medicine specialist, Dr. Yau is an expert at treating non-musculoskeletal injuries associated with athletic activities, including:

  • Injury prevention
  • “Return to play” decisions
  • Safe training and conditioning programs
  • Overall healthy living guidelines

Sports Injury Treatments

No matter what sports injury you sustain during play or exercise it is important to get a proper diagnosis before moving forward with a treatment. Depending on the severity of the injury will determine the best treatment option. It is estimated that 90% of all sports injuries can be treated non-surgically. In some cases, treatment may begin with at-home remedy known as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate) to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed the healing process. When sports injuries do not respond to non-surgical treatment options, surgical measures may become necessary. Dr. Jervis Yau specializes in treating shoulder, knee, hip, elbow and knee disorders using both non-surgical and surgical options. 

Other types of treatment options for sports injuries:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Your doctor may suggest a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs reduce swelling and pain.
  • Immobilization: Your doctor may recommend immobilization to keep the injured area from moving and prevents more damage. Slings, splints, casts, and leg immobilizers are used to immobilize sports injuries.
  • Rest: All injuries need time to heal and proper rest can help the process. Your doctor can guide you on the proper balance between rest and rehabilitation.
  • Rehabilitation (Exercise): Rehabilitation is a key part of treatment. It involves step by step exercises that get the injured area back to normal. Moving the injured area helps it to heal. Don’t play your sport until you are sure you can stretch the injured area without pain, swelling, or stiffness. When you start playing again, start slowly. Build up step by step to full speed.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery is needed to treat sports injuries. Surgery can fix torn tendons and ligaments or put broken bones back in place.
  • Other Therapies: Other therapies may include mild electrical currents (electrostimulation), cold packs (cryotherapy), heat packs (thermotherapy), sound waves (ultrasound) and massage.

Dr. Jervis Yau is a sports medicine doctor who treats patients in his Santa Barbara, California orthopedic practice. For more information on sports injuries and treatment options, please contact his office.