Thanks to the comprehensive nature of their training, physiatrists diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of conditions that affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the peripheral nervous system, and the musculoskeletal system. They are the medical doctors who treat patients suffering from a disabling musculoskeletal issue with therapeutic techniques.
Also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, physiatrists are often in charge of coordinating patient care services with other medical team members. They focus on restoring as much function as possible to patients with disabilities or disabling injuries that include neurological and musculoskeletal issues of all kinds.
Most physiatrists have some education in orthopedics, but they do not perform surgery. Rather, physiatrists employ exercise, electrotherapy, and pain-relief medicine as necessary to best treat the patient.
What Does a Physiatrist Do?
The physiatrist designs specific programs of therapy in order to maintain and increase a patient’s range of motion and to help strengthen their muscles. The purpose is to improve the person’s ability to function, and to help the patient regain what was lost in the injury or illness.
Physiatrists use many of the same diagnostic tools that other doctors do, but they specialize in performing the following:
- Electromyography (EMG) – To measure muscle function in response to nerve stimulation
- Nerve conduction studies – To evaluate whether there is any nerve damage
- Somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) test – To check the pathways between the peripheral nerves and the brain
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound
- Joint injections
- Soft-tissue injections
- Spine injections
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
Conditions Physiatrists Treat
Along with helping a patient to restore function following an injury, physiatrists also treat people who have chronic and lifelong health conditions. Their areas of expertise are:
- Musculoskeletal care
- Sports injury
- Brain injury
- Post-operative therapy
- Pediatric functional and developmental disorders
- Physical rehabilitation
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Herniated disc
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
The goal of a physiatrist who is treating a patient with a chronic musculoskeletal or neurological disorder is to focus on noninvasive or minimally invasive measures. These include medication, physical therapy, and pain-relief injections.
Treatments Used by Physiatrists
Physiatry is an aggressive, nonsurgical approach to treating various musculoskeletal and neurological disorders and injuries. The goal of these physicians is to help the patient become as functional and pain-free as possible, and to be able to live as full a life as possible.
Physiatrists order tests, evaluate patients, make diagnoses, and focus on nonsurgical ways of restoring a patient’s quality of life. Treatment varies from patient to patient. If surgery is unavoidable, the physiatrist will refer the patient to an orthopedist or other surgeon who specializes in that particular issue.
Orthopedic Specialists in Watertown
If you have an injury or a chronic pain and would like to see a medical specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment, visit our caring medical team at North Country Orthopaedic Group.
Call us today at (315) 782-1650 or request an appointment online, and find out how a physiatrist can help restore your mobility and lessen your pain in the most minimally invasive way