Lifespan Orthopedics Institute
The Most Comprehensive Orthopedic Care in the Region

Sports Medicine Care in Rhode Island

At the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute, you can find physicians who serve as team physicians for Rhode Island-area sports teams at the high school, college, and professional levels. Whether you’re on a team or just leading an active lifestyle, our comprehensive sports medicine services can get you back to your peak performance. 

Sports medicine services at the Orthopedics Institute include inpatient and outpatient diagnosis, rehabilitation and surgery for numerous sport-related injuries. The diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of a sports-related injury are designed to return you to your previous level of activity, while an emphasis on future injury prevention ensures an optimal recovery and the safest possible return to sports.

Sports Medicine Conditions Frequently Seen

Common sports medicine conditions include:

  • ACL injuries
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Bursitis
  • Separations
  • Dislocations
  • Impingement
  • Ligament tears
  • Cartilage and meniscus tears
  • Sprains and fractures
  • Injuries from overuse
Brett Owens, MC

Brett Owens, MD, Division Chief, Sports Medicine

Brett Owens, MD, offers advanced techniques for patient care, with a focus on sports injury treatment and ACL repair.

Learn more about Dr. Owens

What Is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is an area of healthcare that extends beyond the care of competitive athletes. Sports medicine professionals focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing orthopedic injuries that occur while playing sports or participating in physical activity. Patients of all ages and all levels of physical abilities benefit from this multidisciplinary and holistic approach to overall health.

  • A sports medicine doctor is a trained medical professional, such as a primary care physicians or orthopedic surgeon, with additional training specific to musculoskeletal injuries (bones, joints, ligaments, fascia, tendons, and muscles).
  • A sports medicine doctor will help patients to incorporate other aspects of conditioning and strengthening that are so important to a healthy human body including nutrition, physical training, and behavioral health.
  • Sports medicine is a recognized subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Subspecialties and by Medicare.

Is Sports Medicine the Same as Orthopedics?

Understanding the differences and similarities of sports medicine and orthopedics will help you manage your injury and recovery. Your primary care physician will be able to recommend the specialist that best meets your physical needs and lifestyle. Both areas require training in musculoskeletal medicine.

Sports medicine doctors specialize in the non-operative treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

Orthopedic surgeons have the surgical training to perform procedures to musculoskeletal conditions.

Is Sports Medicine the Same as Physical Therapy?

Sports medicine and physical therapy are two different fields. Both meet at the intersection of treatment and recovery.

Sports Medicine

  • Is an area of medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sports-related injuries.
  • Typically involves treating injuries that occur from sports or physical activity.
  • Involves rehabilitation and incorporates performance enhancement or athletic training.

Physical Therapy

  • Is a field of healthcare that helps people regain or maintain mobility and function following an illness or injury.
  • Helps patients regain mobility and function by using hands-on treatments.
  • Can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, not just sports-related injuries.

What Are the 5 Most Common Sports Injuries?

Sports injuries aren’t just for athletes. Some of the most common of these injuries occur in people whose jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions. Here are five of the most common types of sports injuries:

1. Shoulder Injuries

The most common type of shoulder injury is to the rotator cuff and occurs when the tendons or bursae near the joint become inflamed from overuse or a sudden injury.

Impingement is a type of injury that occurs when the top of the shoulder blade puts pressure on the soft tissues beneath it when the arm is lifted. Repeated overhead movements increase the risk of impingement.

Instability is a type of injury that occurs when the round end of the upper arm bone is forced out of its shallow socket, either partially or completely.

2. Elbow Injuries

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) occurs when the tendons in the elbow develop small tears and become inflamed, causing pain on the outside of the elbow, and are often the result of repetitive use of the forearm.

Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) is a form of tendinitis that causes pain in the inner part of the elbow that can spread to the forearm and wrist.

Little league elbow is a growth plate injury to the elbow caused by repetitive throwing with pain in the inner part of the elbow.

Ulnar collateral ligament injury is also caused by repeated throwing and can cause tears to this ligament on the inner part of the elbow, resulting in pain and decreased throwing effectiveness.

3. Knee Injuries

Runner’s knee, jumper’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition that causes pain or tenderness close to or under the kneecap (patella) at the front of the knee. It is common in runners, but it also affects people who are active in other ways, such as those who hike or cycle.

A fracture can happen in any bone around the knee, but the kneecap is the most common and most often the result of a bad fall or a blow to the knee.

Dislocation occurs when a large impact to the knee forces it from the groove in the thigh bone (femur) and pushes it out of alignment.

A torn ligament occurs when the knee is over-extended or twisted causing a tear. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are especially common in athletes. They often happen when the person changes direction suddenly or lands from a jump.

A meniscal tear occurs when an awkward twist or pivot causes a tear and are common when the knee suffers a sprain or complete tear of ligaments.

A tendon tear is more common in middle-aged people who play sports that involve running and jumping and result from a forceful landing or an awkward jump.

4. Leg Injuries

A groin pull occurs when quick side-to-side motions strain the muscles of the inner thighs and lead to a groin pull.

The hamstring is formed by the three muscles that run along the back of the thigh. Hamstring strains result from activities that involve a lot of running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops.

Shin splints refers to the pain caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue along the inside length of the shinbone (tibia), the large bone in the front of the lower leg. The pain is usually on the inner side of the lower leg.

5. Ankle Injuries

Ankle sprains occur when a person rolls, twists, or turns their ankle in an awkward way, stretching or tearing the ligaments in the joint.

Achilles tendinitis results from a stretch, tear, or irritation to the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel. It is usually a chronic condition caused by overuse, but serious cases can lead to a tear that may require surgery.

People running in a field

Orthopedic Surgeons and Specialists

Sports medicine services at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute include inpatient and outpatient diagnosis, rehabilitation and surgery for numerous sport-related injuries. 

Learn about our wide range of orthopedic services

Leading Scientists, Cutting Edge Research 

Our comprehensive group of specialists includes board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians proficient in current treatments of sports-related injuries. However, the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute has the unique advantage of having Braden Fleming, PhD, the number one ligament scientist in North America as a part of its research team. The research coming out of our lab identifies what makes ACL repairs most successful, tests what methods can prevent further ACL injury, and develops new treatment procedures and devices for the most advanced and effective care of sports-related injuries.

This cutting-edge research, combined with the experience of our physicians and the state-of-the-art resources available to them, ensures the optimal patient care that is consistently delivered at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute.

Learn more about ACL injuries and treatment