Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), or physiatry, is a branch of medicine dealing with functional restoration of a person affected by physical disability. A physician who has completed training in this field is referred to as a physiatrist. A physiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the non-operative treatment of disorders of nerves, muscles, and joints.
Physiatrists complete a four year residency program following medical school in their specialty. They are trained to coordinate the care of complex medical issues including sports injuries, musculoskeletal trauma, traumatic brain injuries, and nerve injuries including spinal cord injuries. The physiatrist’s goal is to restore the patient’s mobility and physical function, improve their quality of life, and relieve their pain.
Who should see a physiatrist?
Patients experiencing pain or dysfunction related to sports injuries overuse injuries, or who have injuries that involve nerve damage – anything from a herniated disc to a major work-related or car accident – can benefit greatly from the help of a physiatrist. This specialist is skilled in diagnosing and managing a variety of musculoskeletal conditions that cause acute and chronic pain and neurological dysfunction.
Conditions a physiatrist treats include:
- Sports related injuries
- Back pain
- Myofascial pain
Physiatrists use non-surgical treatment options including:
- Physical therapy
- Heat or ice
- Electrical stimulation
- Steroid injections
- Spinal epidurals
- Mobility devices
- Trigger Point Injections
- BOTOX injections for pain relief