Being diagnosed and treated for an illness or injury is only half the battle. The other half is recovering from – or least adapting to – one’s condition as best as one can.
That’s where physiatry comes in. It is defined as physical medicine and rehabilitation, but that hardly scratches the surface of what this field of medicine is all about.
Perhaps the best way to describe physiatry is by exploring the role of a physiatrist. This is a physician who has received specialized training in a branch of medicine that emphasizes the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders that have produced temporary or permanent impairment.
Rather than focusing on a single organ system, the physiatrist addresses the function of the whole patient. After all, when a patient sustains an acute injury or must live with a chronic illness, it can affect a variety of functions including the way they move and speak. That’s what makes physiatry unique among medical fields – it’s about patient-centered care that strives to maximize independence and mobility so that the patient can adapt to what he or she can and cannot do moving forward.
Working with patients of all age to achieve this goal, a physiatrist will use a variety of techniques. These may include:
- Therapeutic exercise
- Cognitive therapy
- Prosthetics, orthotics, and adaptive devices
Besides helping to rehabilitate the patient, a physiatrist also seeks to prevent complications or deterioration secondary to disabling conditions. For example, a physiatrist may use ultrasound and electrodiagnostic services to assess the full scope of a complex or musculoskeletal injury in order to better address the patient’s condition and prevent it from worsening.
The ultimate goal of physiatry is to provide comprehensive rehabilitative medical care to patients coping with pain, weakness, numbness, flaccidity, spasticity and/or loss of function so they can maximize their physical, biological, psychological, social, and vocational potential.
Is Physiatry Right for Me?
Physiatry is similar to interventional pain management, but with an added emphasis on physical therapy to help restore function and mobility. These services are ideal for anyone who wants to avoid or postpone surgery as well as those who may not be candidates for surgery due to age or health restrictions.
The physiatrists at Lynx Healthcare treat all kinds of bone, muscle, joint, and nerve disorders, including:
- Sports-related injuries
- Work-related injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve compression
- Hand and wrist pain
- Pelvic pain
- And many more
The first step in identifying your condition is to perform a detailed physical examination. During the exam, a physiatrist will evaluate your range of motion, pain tolerance, and overall health status. Special diagnostic testing – including X-rays, MRIs, electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies (NCS), and diagnostic nerve blocks – can further aid in the process by pinpointing the areas that need therapy.
The physiatrists at Lynx Healthcare can help you get moving again without the need for a surgical procedure and, in some cases, without the need for medication. To learn more, make an appointment at one of the Lynx Healthcare clinics in Oregon, Yakima, Tri-Cities, or Goldendale by calling (509) 591-0070, or contact our Spokane clinic at (509) 321-4575. We look forward to helping to keep you active and enjoying life.