What is Physical Medicine?
Physical Medicine is a unique field of medicine which aims to restore function and improve quality of life for those who suffer from various pain problems or other conditions interfering with ability. A physician who specializes in Physical Medicine is known as a Physical Medicine Specialist or a Physiatrist. Physical Medicine (also called PM&R or Physiatry) is a distinct medical specialty with a governing board. Physical Medicine Specialists complete a four year residency program and may opt for additional training in a subspecialty. Our physicians have all completed MD training and four year Physical Medicine Residency Programs and are Board Certified. We have additional subspecialty training as well in pain medicine, interventional medicine, fibromyalgia, prolotherapy, electrodiagnostic medicine, and musculoskeletal ultrasound.
Physical Medicine Specialists diagnose and treat a variety of conditions affecting muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, joints and nerves. Some of the common conditions that cause pain, weakness, or numbness include fibromyalgia, muscle strains, work injuries, motor vehicle accident injury, ligament sprain, tendinitis, spine disease, facet syndrome, spine disorders, arthritis, disc disease, nerve entrapments, neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injuries and brain injury, amputees, and other conditions.
Physical Medicine Specialists perform specialized testing including electrodiagnostics which involve nerve conduction studies (NCS) and needle electromyelography (EMG) to provide nervous system and muscle functional information for the diagnosis and/or prognosis of various neuromuscular disorders. Musculoskeletal ultrasound is another test which uses painless sound waves to evaluate soft tissue structures such as tendons, ligaments and muscles to determine if any swelling, inflammation or tears are present, or other problems. Some injections to specific body structures can be used for diagnostic purposes to identify the exact source of pain and help determine the diagnosis.
Individualized treatment programs are an essential part of Physical Medicine. The main emphasis is placed on improving function through a combined use of medication, physical modalities, exercises, manual therapy, injections, supplements, adaptive devices and ongoing patient education. The Physical Medicine Specialist prescribes a specific treatment program based on each patient’s diagnosis and individualized treatment goals and the specialist monitors the progress towards achieving these goals. A multidisciplinary team approach is frequently utilized involving the patient, doctor, nurse, physical therapist, manual therapist and other health professionals.
Physical Medicine Specialists are especially skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of chronically painful conditions. Even if the conditions cannot be cured, there can be improvement in function and overall quality of life. If you have a chronic pain problem interfering with your function, consider seeing a Physical Medicine Specialist.