What is Physiatry?
Physiatry, also known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is a medical specialty that specializes in the treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and rehabilitation of people with functional impairment due to injury, disorder, or disease. It is one of the latest subspecialties in the field of medicine that manages a wide variety of conditions involving the musculoskeletal system and nervous system, while also focusing on the patient’s independence, function, and quality of life.
What Does Physiatry Involve?
Physiatry imparts integrated and multidisciplinary care focused on recovery of the whole person by addressing the individual’s emotional, physical, vocational, medical, and social needs. Physiatry is special among other medical specialties in that its area of expertise is focused on the functioning of the whole patient, as compared with a focus on an organ system or systems.
What is a Physiatrist?
Physiatrists are doctors who have completed 4 years of medical school plus an additional 4 years of residency training in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. They may be subspecialty certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Brain Injury Medicine, Pain Medicine, Neuromuscular Medicine, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, and/or Sports Medicine, and practice in a variety of clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient facilities.
What Conditions do Physiatrists Treat?
Physiatrists are specifically qualified to:
- Diagnose and treat pain or disability arising out of an illness, injury, or disease
- Optimize patient care by leading a team of medical professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.
- Work with other physicians such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, primary care physicians, and many others
- Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
Based on the illness, injury, or disabling condition, some physiatrists may treat their patients using the following services/procedures:
- Spine injections
- EMG/Nerve Conduction Studies
- Fluoroscopy-guided procedures
- Ultrasound-guided procedures
- Nerve stimulators, Ablations and Blocks procedures
- Joint injections
- Orthotics and Prosthetics
- Nerve and Muscle Biopsy
- Spasticity treatment
- Disc decompression, kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty, and discogram
- Impairment/disability assessment
- Osteopathic Treatment/Manual Medicine
- Alternative/Complementary Medicine, such as acupuncture, etc
When Should You Visit a Physiatrist?
You can consider visiting a physiatrist for management of:
- Illness, injury or disease that is impairing mobility and function
- Pre or postsurgical rehabilitation
- Chronic pain from arthritis, back pain, or a repetitive stress injury
- Problems related to nerve damage or recovery from stroke
- Obesity with difficulty exercising along with other weight-related health problems
- Diminished energy, lack of mobility, and issues related to menopause, childbirth, etc.