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What is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation?

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), also called Physiatry (fizz-eye-a-tree), is a medical specialty emphasizing the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to the muscles, bones and nerves. PM&R is one of 24 medical specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

What is a rehabilitation physician (or Physiatrist)?

Physiatrists are muscle, bone and nerve experts who treat conditions that affect how you move. Their goal is to decrease pain, enhance performance without surgery and improve physical function.

How do Physiatrists diagnose?

Physiatrists take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of a condition. Their specific diagnostic tools are the same as those used by other physicians (medical history, physical examinations and imaging studies), with the addition of special techniques in electrodiagnostic medicine like electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies. These techniques help the Physiatrist to diagnose conditions that cause pain, weakness and numbness.

Why visit a Physiatrist?

Consider seeing a Physiatrist if:

  • You had an accident or you have an injury or chronic condition that has left you with pain or limited function.
  • You are contemplating or recovering from surgery.
  • You have acute or chronic pain from arthritis, a repetitive stress injury, or back problems.
  • Life changes have created new challenges to your physical function.

A Physiatrist will thoroughly assess your condition, needs and expectations and rule out any serious medical illnesses to develop a treatment plan. A clear understanding of your condition and limitations will help to develop a treatment plan suited to your unique needs.