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Sport and Exercise Medicine

Do you know what a Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Specialist does? Don't be worried if you don't because the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine was only founded by the Royal Colleges as recently as 2006.

SEM involves the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of sport and exercise injuries and other musculoskeletal conditions. It also involves the use of  exercise to prevent and treat many chronic conditions including Heart Disease, High Blood pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Obesity, Depression, Anxiety and Stress. 

Let's take an example. You've twisted your knee playing tennis. It's still painful and swollen several days later. Professor Nicola Maffulli will ask you about the mechanism of injury (how did it happen?) and the past history of the injury (has it happened before?) in order to understand the nature of the damage and plan your treatment programme.   

He will carry out an examination which will reveal the likely diagnosis and an X-Ray, Ultrasound or MRI Scan may then be necessary to confirm it. In most cases, a custom designed programme of physiotherapy treatment, involving stretching and strengthening exercises, electrotherapies such as Ultrasound, Laser, Interferential, Ultra-violet and, possibly, strapping and taping, will accelerate healing and return to normal function. A Rehabilitation Programme, also custom designed, will then get you back to your sport as soon as possible.

In a few cases, further therapy is needed. This could involve an injection, manipulation and/or mobilisation and, very rarely, surgery. Since less than 5% of ALL sporting injuries require surgery, it is much more sensible to see an SEM Specialist before going to an Orthopaedic Surgeon who is, of course, a specialist in surgery but not a specialist in your sport!

SEM Specialists successfully treat:

  • Runner's Knee (Patello-Femoral Pain)
  • Shin-Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Tennis + Golfer's Elbow (Lateral /Medial Epicondylitis)
  • Shoulder Rotator Cuff tears
  • Heel  Injuries (Achilles Tendonitis/ Plantar Fasciitis)
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Overuse Injuries/ Repetitive Strain Injuries
  • Rehab following surgery
  • Knee + Ankle + Foot pain


Many muscle and joint injuries, even if not originally caused by sport, can be very successfully treated using SEM Techniques and you can usually return quickly to your normal work and sport activities. 


British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine

British Olympic Association

British Journal of Sports Medicine

British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine


Patients UK

Sports Injury Bulletin

UK Sport