Here to Help
Physiatrists are physicians (M.D.’s - medical doctors & D.O.’s - osteopathic doctors) who specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM & R). The specialty was incorporated in 1947 upon approval from the Advisory Board of Medical Specialties. Board certification requires at least one year of internship in an accredited medical/surgical residency program followed by an additional 3 years of residency training and an exhaustive series of written and oral exams. There are less than 10,000 board certified Physiatrists currently practicing in the United States.
Physiatrists help people restore optimum physical function, provide pain relief and minimize the psychological, social and vocational effects of temporary or permanent disability. Physiatrists focus on the patient’s functional outcomes, treating the whole person rather than a single organ system or disease. This makes Physiatry both complementary and essential to the standard of care or patients with any form of disability that impairs their “normal life activities”.
Physiatrists are the medical community’s experts in the evaluation and treatment of neck & back pain and musculoskeletal pain syndromes and are uniquely qualified in pain relief measures such as trigger point injections and major joint injections. They provide a complete range of electrodiagnostic testing such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS). Some Physiatrists are also specially trained to perform epidural steroid injections & facet blocks.
Experts in Our Field
Physiatrists specialize in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of all types of physical disabilities. Physiatrists are experts in determining the appropriate treatment for patients recovering from any disease process which results in a functional impairment. Physiatrists treat patients with medications; prescribe treatment modalities such as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, and specific forms of specialized therapeutic exercise in conjunction with physical therapists. Physiatrists directly coordinate the multidisciplinary treatment of pulmonary, cardiovascular, oncology, endocrine, vascular, neurologic, orthopedic, traumatic and genetic related physical and functional impairments across all age groups. Physiatrists also provide expertise in prescribing prosthetic and orthotic devices and electrical or
mechanical assistive devices.
Oftentimes the integration of multiple healthcare professionals is necessary to facilitate recovery; in PM & R this includes occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, rehabilitation nursing, diet/nutrition, social services, and case management. The Physiatrist may function as the attending physician/medical director at a primary acute inpatient rehabilitation facility or as a consultant, working in conjunction with a primary care physician or facility medical director in the post-acute/sub-acute or Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) environment. Common disabilities treated by Physiatrists in the inpatient setting include recovery from major joint surgery i.e. hip/knee replacement, traumatic brain injury, stroke and general de-conditioning.
The Physiatrists typical outpatient practice includes treatment and rehabilitation for back & neck injury, joint pain, repetitive stress injuries such as Carpal Tunnel syndrome, work related injuries (workers’compensation), sports injuries, Cerebral Palsy, fibromyalgia and recovery from motor vehicle accidents. Physiatrists are leaders in the care, treatment and independence training of millions of people facing short-term, intermediate and long-term physical impairments and challenges. Physical medicine intervention not only speeds recovery, facilitates maximum functional capacity, and helps restore quality of life but also contributes to an overall decrease in long term health care related costs.