If you suffer an accident, traumatic injury, or debilitating disease, there are many treatment options designed to help relieve your chronic pain. However, the best way to avoid long-term disability is to undergo extensive treatment and entrust your recovery to a specialist specially trained in physical medicine.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) is a branch of medicine that encompasses a wide variety of clinical settings and patient needs. A doctor who specializes in PM&R is known as a physiatrist, specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage patients who have been disabled from a disease, disorder, or injury that may include:
- Brain injuries
- Nerve compression
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pregnancy-related back pain
- Spinal cord injury
- Sports-related injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Work-related injuries
- Other debilitating injuries or conditions
The Unique Role of a Physiatrist
A physiatrist primarily uses physical means, including non-surgical methods such as physical therapy and medication, to treat patients. Specializing in treating conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues), a physiatrist’s main goal and function is to help patients become as functional and pain-free as possible.
Although rooted in physical therapy, physical medicine incorporates a whole-body approach to restoring maximum function lost due to an illness or injury. As a trained physician, a physiatrist understands how the body’s various systems relate to each other, particularly how the musculoskeletal system works with the nervous system to help provide mobility and strength. As such, the physiatrist will evaluate a patient, note the patient’s level of mobility, dexterity, and strength, among other pertinent factors, then provide a plan of treatment for a physical therapist. In addition, many physiatrists also serve to coordinate a patient’s care with a multidisciplinary team of other physicians and specialists that may include spine surgeons, psychologists, and chiropractors, depending on the patient’s needs.
A doctor trained in physical medicine takes the time to accurately pinpoint the source of your pain or disability by ordering diagnostic tests that may include electromyography and a nerve conduction study, X-ray, and MRI. Subsequent treatment options are always non-surgical but are designed to provide substantial relief. In addition to specialized physical therapy, therapeutic injections containing steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication may be offered. The goal is to provide comprehensive care for the patient as a whole, not merely the pain or disability.
When to Seek Treatment From a Physiatrist
You should see a PM&R specialist if:
- You have sustained an injury that causes moderate to severe pain and impedes your physical functioning.
- You have an illness, or disability, or have undergone treatment for an illness that has left you with pain and limited physical functioning.
- You are experiencing chronic back pain, neck pain, pain from a repetitive stress injury, or chronic arthritic pain.
- You have recently experienced a stroke or other nerve damage that limits your physical functioning.
- You are recovering from recent surgery.
Physical Medicine Near You in Watertown, New York
At North Country Orthopaedic Group in Watertown, New York, our board-certified surgeons work as a team to make sure every patient receives the highest quality care possible. We provide patients suffering from chronic pain and disability with a thorough evaluation and a customized treatment plan. In the process, a physiatrist will consult with other medical team members, including orthopedic surgeons, endocrinologists, sports medicine experts, and physical therapists to achieve the best possible outcome.
Ours is a multi-specialty practice devoted to your musculoskeletal health that offers the most advanced non-surgical and surgical services to provide a comprehensive approach to your care. Our goal is to keep you moving through every stage of your life, and our PM&R doctors have credentials and experience you won’t find anywhere else in Northern New York. Our reputation for excellence is why we draw patients from all over the region.