Menu Close

Is Sports Medicine And Physical Therapy The Same?

This topic has elicited a lot of confusion in recent times. Both seem intertwined and many are unable to decipher and clearly establish whether they have any correlation or discernible variations. The field of sports medicine and physical therapy has become increasingly popular in recent times as many people seek a remedy to sports injuries and any other related physical challenges, which have affected the majority of society. The lack of direction pertaining to this has culminated in confusion since people do not know what to resort to when they need to seek medical intervention. The field has therefore been marred by skepticism and this article shall help to determine whether the two are the same thing or whether they have any subtle or huge variations.

Educational Background

a man getting physical therapy
For clarity and specificity, it is vital to mention that a physical therapist is required to undertake an undergraduate program and later proceed and obtain the requisite licensure crucial for practice in this field. Sports medicine on the other hand necessitates more specialization in a bid to focus on the treatment and alleviation of sports-related injuries for enhanced performance and recovery.

The differentiation in this regard is that whilst physical therapy only requires undertaking a graduate program to obtain the licensure, more certification and specialization will be required in sports medicine. This entails advanced education and a doctoral degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. It is therefore very easy to see the nexus between the two as depicted above but the variation is also visible in relation to the level of education required in both sets of practice and the bespoke specialization that is essential and mandatory for the distinct focus in sports medicine.


A physical therapist is heavily involved in the restoration aspect of therapy. This ensures that normal function is restored and free and seamless movement guaranteed. On the other hand, in sports medicine, the practitioner is responsible for several aspects of practice ranging from evaluation, deterrence to treatment and subsequent rehabilitation in the most advanced cases. This has one implication, that sports medicine is special by nature and definitively, it has a unique focus on sports and prevention and rehabilitation.

On the other hand, physical therapy is generalized and inclusive of several types of therapies that primarily and solely focus on restoration and muscular and skeletal enhancement. Suffice to say, premised on the foregoing, with regard to practice, sports medicine is an advanced form of physical therapy that involves a special approach premised on the expertise of highly skilled professionals obtained through additional education and certification as illustrated in the aforementioned.

Specialization and Limitation

This might appear to be slightly confusing as it has been mentioned prior but to avoid regurgitation of information, it is vital to mention that physical therapists are not only limited and restricted to sports practice but they can opt to indulge in other different types of things such as neurology and pediatrics, occupational therapy among others. Sports science is one of the many things that a therapist can opt to focus on after proper and ample consideration. It is therefore a small branch sprouting from the broader concept of physical therapy.

Predicated on what has been outlined herein, it is clear to see that both aspects of this medical discipline bear a connection and proximate relationship. However, the differences are also very easy to see. Their efficacy in the treatment of muscular and skeletal injuries and other issues and disorders remains undisputed. They are ideal for both rehabilitative, preventative and restoration purposes. It is great to emphasize the essence of making this distinction since it aids the patient to decide whether they require general physical therapy that is geared towards diagnosis and restoration or specialized attention from a sports medicine practitioner who is highly trained in this specific discipline for preventative and rehabilitative purposes.

This is important especially when it comes to athletes whose fitness and health is always on the line hence requiring proper decision making to make sure that they have a prolonged career since longevity implies that they will be able to maximize and fulfill their potential. Despite the numerous similarities, the distinction has been clearly made thus you stand to be adequately guided in case you opt to seek and pursue this kind of medical attention. More so, you should not hesitate from consulting certified professionals so that they can render some more fitting advice before making an informed decision.