Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Improving Quality of Life

With hundreds of specialties and subspecialties in medicine, it can be hard to determine whom to see when you have a medical issue. There are several overlapping specialties, especially when it comes to treating conditions of the bones, joints and muscles. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is one area of medicine that focuses on many parts of the body.

What is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation?

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) is an area of medicine that focuses on restoring and  improving an individual’s functional ability. With a focus on improving quality of life, PM&R can be used to treat a wide range of physical impairments. These impairments include but are not limited to conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, brain, spinal cord and nerves.

What is a Physiatrist?

A Physiatrist is a medical doctor that has a trained focus in the speciality area of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A Physiatrist has completed four years of medical school beyond an undergraduate degree. Further, a physiatrist completes a four-year residency in the area of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Physiatrists offer a variety of procedures to help patients suffering from bone, joint, muscle and nerve issues. These issues could be the result of an injury or medical condition/disease. Some of services offered by a physiatrist include:

  • Spinal injections
  • Joint injections
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS) and Electromyography (EMG)
  • Spasticity management
  • Trigger point injections for muscle disorders

In addition to specific medical procedures, physiatrists often work in conjunction with a team of medical professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, primary care doctors and neurologists often work closely with physiatrists to ensure optimal care for the patient. In addition, physiatrists often involve non-medical professionals in the development and execution of the treatment plan. These professionals often include: social workers, therapists and vocational counselors.