When Is It Time to See a Physiatrist?

By: Courtney Lewis

May 26, 2022

female doctor helping female patient walk down hallway

Physiatry (fi-zahy-uh-tree), also referred to as physical medicine and rehabilitation, encompasses the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disabilities or injuries related to the brain, nerves, bones and muscles. The goal of this specialty is to maximize physical functioning, greatly decrease or eliminate pain, foster independence and improve quality of life for those suffering with a disability, chronic pain and physical impairments.

Who Is It for?

Physiatry can help patients with functional deficits and secondary medical conditions as a result of the following:

  • Amputation
  • Brain Injury
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spasticity and Movement Disorders
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Spine Pain
  • Sports-Related Injuries
  • Stroke
Some of these medical conditions can often cause chronic pain or impede physical functioning, ultimately affecting a person’s overall well-being and making it difficult for them to sustain a desired quality of life.

Why Consider Physiatry?

When it comes to needing a plan to work towards healing certain health ailments, physiatrists are experts in establishing conservative, non-surgical treatment plans. They collaborate with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists to optimize patient care. Rather than just treating a problem area, they treat the whole person.

“By listening to the patient’s story and functional goals, we can develop a multifaceted approach to help them overcome their health obstacles and lead a more fulfilling livelihood,” says Casey Keating, MD, a physiatrist with Renown Medical Group - Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. “As physiatrists, we understand that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes recovery. We come up with a plan of action customized to meet your needs.”

Types of Treatments

A physiatrist can perform and prescribe the following treatments and tests:

  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Prosthetics/orthotics
  • Pain medications
  • EMG (electromyography)
  • NCS (nerve conduction studies)
  • Soft tissue injections
  • Joint injections
  • Spine injections
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound
  • Interventional spinal therapeutics
  • Spasticity management
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