Do you know the difference between physical medicine and physical therapy? The terms sound almost synonymous, yet they are not quite the same.
Physical medicine refers to the medical specialty that treats various conditions, including impairments/disabilities affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, or muscles. Although it is rooted in physical therapy, physical medicine incorporates a whole-body approach to restoring maximum function lost due to an illness or injury.
Whereas the role of a physical therapist is to help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain, a trained physiatrist (also known as a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician) applies his or her knowledge of how the body’s various systems relate to each – especially how the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles) works with the nervous system – to evaluate a patient, observe the patient’s level of mobility, dexterity, and strength to provide a plan of treatment for a physical therapist. In addition, many physiatrists coordinate a patient’s care with a multidisciplinary team of other physicians and specialists, including spine surgeons, chiropractors, and psychologists.
There are a few other things about physical medicine to know. Let’s learn more about this and where you can go for physical medicine and rehabilitation in Watertown, New York.
What a Physiatrist Does
As a physician focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of people disabled by disease, disorder, or injury, a physiatrist’s goals include:
- Decreasing a patient’s pain
- Enhancing performance and functionality to improve a patient’s quality of life without surgical intervention
- Maximizing a patient’s independence with daily living activities.
- Treating the whole person, not just the problem area.
Physiatrists practice in various clinical settings, including outpatient clinics and inpatient facilities. Their broad range of knowledge includes the musculoskeletal system, neurology (the nervous system), and rheumatology (joints, muscles, ligaments). Some physiatrists have completed additional training in sports medicine, pediatrics, brain injury, and pain medicine.
Unlike other physicians, physiatrists can prescribe medication for many issues, such as muscle and nerve problems, attention and memory deficiency, and pain. They also prescribe functionality-enhancing devices such as braces and splints, along with other medical aids, such as canes and walkers, to enhance safety. Physiatrists are also trained to utilize laboratory testing, X-rays, MRI or CT scans, electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies and psychological testing as part of their diagnostic services.
Working with other medical providers, including orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists, primary care providers, as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapists, outpatient physiatrists manage a wide range of nonsurgical or nonoperative conditions, such as:
- Orthopedic injuries
- Overuse injuries
- Low back pain
- Nerve disorders, including carpal or tarsal tunnel.
Physical Medicine in Watertown, New York
If you or a loved one are in need of physical medicine and rehabilitation, you’ll find the specialized services required at North Country Orthopaedic Group in Watertown, New York. Our board-certified surgeons work as a team to make sure every patient suffering from chronic pain and disability receives the highest quality care possible, starting with a thorough evaluation and a customized treatment plan. A physiatrist will consult with other members of our extensive medical team, which includes orthopedic surgeons, endocrinologists, sports medicine experts, and physical therapists, to achieve the best possible outcome.
As a multi-specialty practice devoted to your musculoskeletal health, North Country Orthopaedic Group offers the most advanced nonsurgical and surgical services to provide a comprehensive approach to your care. Our goal is to keep you active throughout every stage of your life, and our physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors have credentials and experience you won’t find anywhere else in Northern New York. Our reputation for excellence is why patients come from all over the region to entrust us with their care.
To learn more about the healing power of our physician medicine and rehabilitative services, call us today at (315) 782-1650 to schedule a consultation or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form.