What is a Physiatrist and When Should I See One?

If you are suffering from an orthopedic or sports injury, your first search may be for an Orthopedic Surgeon.  However, many patients are referred to a Physiatrist by their Orthopedic Surgeons for conservative treatments and protocols to help avoid surgery.  Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, also known as Physiatrists, treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the spine, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.  The goal of Physiatry is to restore function to those who are dealing with pain, muscle weakness, numbness and muscle spasms – without surgery.

How Are Physiatrists Trained?

Similar to other medical specialties, Physiatry requires 4 years of medical school followed by an additional 4 years of residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  They also may be subspecialty certified in Brain Injury Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Neuromuscular Medicine, Pain Medicine, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, and/or Sports Medicine.

What Treatments Does a Physiatrist Provide?

Some of the most common reasons patients seek the expertise of a Physiatrist is for chronic pain issues, such as back or neck pain, ligament injuries and arthritis.  A Physiatrist uses a multi-disciplinary approach to treat patients that includes conservative modalities, including Physical Therapy, in conjunction with medication or injection therapy.  Other treatments that Physiatrist perform, when necessary, include:

  • EMG/Nerve Conduction Studies
  • Joint Injections
  • Ultrasound Guided Procedures
  • Fluoroscopy Guided procedures
  • PRP Injections
  • Injections of Spine
  • Nerve Stimulators, Blocks and Ablation procedures
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