A physiatrist, or physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, specializes in the nonsurgical management of spine and musculoskeletal pain, including back, neck, hip, knee, shoulder, arm, ankle, foot and elbow. While many doctors provide drugs to mask symptoms of pain, these drugs leave a patient debilitated and dependent upon them for pain relief. A physiatrist, on the other hand, provides techniques and treatments that enable musculoskeletal and spine pain sufferers to return to activity without surgery.
With so many subspecialties in medicine, it is no wonder that many people do not know exactly what a physiatrist does, even if they have heard the term. It has become a nationwide trend for highly respected spine and joint centers to use physiatrists to treat cases of back and neck pain.
A physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) doctor may use a variety of tests to diagnose your back, neck, hip, knee, shoulder, arm, ankle, foot and elbow pain. Physiatrists may also use interventional injection procedures for pain relief and for diagnostic purposes.
Essentially, a physiatrist has unique skills to offer a spine and musculoskeletal pain sufferer. Instead of masking pain with drugs, a physiatrist identifies the cause of the pain. They often help patients relieve pain symptoms without surgery.
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