A physiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal problems. Their primary focus is on using nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain and improve mobility which has been affected by an injury or health condition.
Physiatry is similar to interventional pain management, but it has an added emphasis on physical rehabilitation to restore function and mobility – including sports medicine. Physiatry services are ideal for anyone who wants to avoid or postpone surgery, and it is also an excellent option for those who cannot have surgery due to health restrictions.
Who Do Physiatrists Treat?
Physiatrists may see patients referred from many different areas of medicine, including orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, rheumatologists, family doctors, and urgent care physicians. Physiatrists commonly treat patients with conditions including:
- Sports injuries
- Work-related injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and back pain
- Hand and wrist pain
When a physiatrist first meets with a patient, the doctor will identify and assess the patient’s condition or injury by performing a thorough physical examination. During the exam, the physiatrist will evaluate the patient’s range of motion, pain tolerance, and overall health status.
Further diagnostic testing may be required in order to fully assess the areas that need therapy and to establish an accurate diagnosis. This can include X-rays, MRIs, electromyography (EMG), and nerve conduction studies. EMG testing is particularly useful in diagnosing conditions such as a pinched nerve in the spine or compression neuropathies such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatments by a Physiatrist
Depending on the diagnosis, treatment by a physiatrist can include a mix of techniques from exercise rehabilitation and occupational therapy to pain management. The goal is to provide truly holistic treatment that addresses all aspects of the patient’s physical health after a debilitating injury or health condition.
Because the physical medicine and rehabilitation treatments are all nonsurgical, they can all take place in the physiatrist’s office. A number of different treatments are performed by a physiatrist and can include:
- Progressive strengthening exercises
- Exercise rehabilitation
- Massage therapy
- Work conditioning
- Therapeutic injections to reduce pain and swelling (e.g., nerve blocks and facet joint injections)
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Therapeutic splints (for wrists, hands, etc.)
A physiatrist can offer a full evaluation, diagnosis, treatment of pain, and management of conditions – leading to returned function and a successful recovery. They can also educate the patient about the diagnosis and what to expect. The physiatrist can work with the patient in areas such as weight management and a healthy lifestyle.
Physiatry in Washington and New Mexico
If you are suffering from pain and/or a mobility problem associated with an injury or health condition and it is impacting your everyday life, then a physiatrist may be the solution to helping you return to your normal lifestyle, as pain-free as possible.
At Lynx Healthcare, you will find a dedicated team of medical professionals who will work with you to achieve your goals and help you make a full recovery.
If you would like more information about the services we provide or would like to make an appointment with a physiatrist, contact the experienced medical team at Lynx Healthcare today. You can call us at (509) 591-0070 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you get back to the active lifestyle you enjoy.