What is a Physiatrist?


A physiatrist might possibly be the most well-rounded healthcare provider you’ve never heard of! But with a goal of helping you live your best life, they are one healthcare provider you won’t want to miss out on.

What is a Physiatrist?

A physiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed specialized training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). They treat patients of all ages who have injuries, illnesses, and disabilities that affect their day-to-day functioning.

They treat physical or cognitive impairments and disabilities caused by neurological, musculoskeletal, or other medical conditions. But they don’t only treat injuries or problems; they focus on your body’s functioning as a whole.

With a focus on body function, they may treat a variety of conditions including those of the:

  • Bones
  • Brain
  • Joints
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Spinal cord
  • Tendons

Many physiatrists also become certified in subspecialties. A PM&R may specialize in:

  • Brain Injury Medicine
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Neuromuscular Medicine
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Spinal Cord Injury Medicine
  • Sports Medicine

Physiatrists can treat everything from age-related changes to venous thromboembolism. The goal of treatment is to improve the patient’s functional ability and quality of life, which often includes pain management.

Physiatrists often deal with injuries and conditions that affect multiple body systems, like the brain or spinal injuries. They frequently work with neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, social workers, therapists, and other physiatrists.

Types of Treatment

It’s not surprising that physiatrists use a wide variety of treatment types when their focus is on function rather than on a specific body part. A physiatrist may need to assess, diagnose, and treat one or more body parts or systems.

The treatments they use are varied.

Physiatrists may use:

  • nerve conduction studies
  • ultrasounds
  • injections
  • nerve stimulators
  • osteopathic treatment
  • orthotics
  • alternative and complementary treatments

Each patient’s treatment plan is individualized to their unique circumstances.

When To See a Physiatrist?

The definition of a physiatrist may seem broad, and that’s because a physiatrist does treat a broad range of problems related to function. Some possible reasons to make an appointment with a physiatrist include:

  • An accident injury that causes functional limitations
  • Living with chronic pain from an injury or degenerative condition
  • Struggling with neck or back pain
  • Resolving sports-related injuries
  • Recovering from a stroke or surgery
  • And there are many more reasons a physiatrist might be the right healthcare provider for you!

An appointment with a physiatrist starts like most other visits with a healthcare provider – with a physical examination and discussion about your history, conditions, needs, and your expectations for treatment.

Then you and your physiatrist will design a treatment plan for your individual needs to help increase your function, mobility, and quality of life.

Don’t suffer from chronic pain any longer – Schedule your visit with a physiatrist today!

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