What does a physiatrist do?
A Physiatrist is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatry was developed in the 1930's and was approved as a specialty of medicine in 1947. The physiatrist treats people with disabling and painful conditions, with the primary goals of improving function and quality of life. The physiatrist addresses problems including back pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, knee pain, whiplash, sports injuries, work injuries, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and post concussion syndrome. The physiatrist helps people who have had a stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, amputation, and complications of multiple sclerosis (MS).
In developing a treatment plan, the physiatrist might order laboratory work, imaging studies, or perform electrodiagnostic studies (EMG). The treatment plan might include physical therapy, therapeutic exercise, chiropractic treatment, massage, acupuncture, counseling, injections, or medication.
Physiatrist are trained to perform electrodiagnostic studies, joint injections, spinal injections, and nerve blocks including injections with botulinum toxin. They are trained in ultrasound techniques to guide injections and diagnose problems.
Many physiatrists enjoy a broad practice, but others sub-specialize in such areas as pain management, sports medicine, neuromuscular medicine, non-hospice palliative medicine, or spinal cord injury. Some physiatrists limit their practice to only physical medicine procedures, most also practice rehabilitation. The physiatrists at RMA practice both physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Physiatrists are involved in the management of a broad spectrum of medical problems with the underlying goals of restoring function, improving quality of life, and preventing future injury. When the full restoration to the pre-injury level of function is not possible, they work to optimize quality of life.