You’ve been seeing your provider at U.S. HealthWorks for your low back, neck, or other musculoskeletal injury, but for some reason you still aren’t back to baseline.
They’ve asked you to see their physiatrist. What’s a physiatrist? I’m glad you asked!
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), physiatry, or rehabilitation medicine, is a branch of medicine that works to restore functional independence and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities.
The term ‘physiatry’ was coined by Dr. Frank H. Krusen in 1938, and was accepted by the American Medical Association in 1947. It is one of 24 medical specialties certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
PM&R emphasizes the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders – particularly related to the nerves, muscles, and bones – that may produce temporary or permanent impairment.
Whether it’s a stroke, spinal cord injury, limb amputation, or a sports medicine injury, PM&R physicians are there to help you. We often lead the team in a multidisciplinary setting with physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists. It’s not uncommon to see us working alongside neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and neurosurgeons in a group practice.
We use the same tools used by other physicians (medical histories, physical examinations, and imaging studies), with the addition of special techniques in electrodiagnostic medicine like electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS). These combine to help the PM&R physician diagnose conditions that cause pain, weakness, and numbness, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or spinal radiculopathies.
Most physiatrists are well trained in the full spectrum of non-operative musculoskeletal care, and know when to consider consultation to surgical specialties.
We feel comfortable with routine in-office large and small joint injections. However, a growing number have sought additional fellowship training to be able to provide comprehensive spinal care through the use of interventional fluoroscopically guided(x-ray) procedures such as epidural steroid injections.
By providing an appropriate treatment plan, physiatrists help patients stay as active as possible. And by working closely with your U.S. HealthWorks Provider, our goal will be to get you back to work quickly and safely!
Antoine Jones, MD, MBA, is an Area Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks. He is Board Certified in both PM&R and Pain Medicine. A native of Maryland, he now practices in Seattle, Washington.