Physical Medicine, also known as physiatry, is a form of medicine that focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating disorders related to nerves, muscles, bones and the brain. These types of disorders tend to produce temporary or permanent physical impairment.
Medical doctors that have completed training in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) are called rehabilitation physicians or physiatrists. Their special training allows them to practice physical medicine to treat injuries and illnesses that impact how you move. Physical medicine covers any disability resulting from injury or disease of any organ system. Instead of focusing on just one part of the body, physical medicine programs help with everything that is affected by the disease or disorder including medical, social, emotional, and vocational issues during and after the injury or disease.
Physiatry covers a large range of issues from injury prevention for athletes to multiple trauma and complications resulting from injury or disease. Your physiatrist will diagnose and treat your pain while helping you to restore maximum function lost due to the injury or illness. They focus on treating you as a person rather than just the problem area. Your physiatrist can provide several treatment options including non-surgical treatments to find the treatment option or prevention plan that will work best for you.
Many of the disorders that physiatrists treat include sports injuries, work injuries, back and neck pain with a focus on herniated discs or pinched nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and brain injuries including stroke. They also help with rehabilitation after several other issues such as cardiac disease, pulmonary disease and vascular disease. Rehabilitation after amputation, wounds, burns; organ transplant and cancer related conditions are also commonly treated by physiatrists.
PM&R doctors focus on quality of life and enhancing patient performance. The focus of treatment is not on the injury or disease itself, instead they focus on creating a program for the patient’s life. They will not only treat the injury or disease but help you rehabilitate yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. Services also include helping you put your life back together socially and vocationally.