What do you get when you cross a general practitioner, a physical therapist, a pain management specialist, and a spine doctor? You get a physiatrist! People come to Pain and Spine Specialists (PASS) for a number of reasons, and as physiatrists, we can treat them in a number of different ways.
Still, a lot of patients don’t really understand what a physiatrist is, what we do, or how we’re different from any of the other medical professions listed above. We thought it was a good time to clarify these things and how we can help patients with a wide variety of health conditions and challenges. Let’s dive in!
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) Physicians
In many ways a physiatrist is very similar to a general practitioner, but with a specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation. That means we focus on treating issues with your body’s physical mechanics, but that doesn’t mean we only focus on the muscles and bones (though that is a large part of our practice). It also means we work with patients facing chronic pain issues such as those associated with cancer, nerve issues like sciatica, or even brain issues such as stroke recovery.
What Does a Physiatrist Do?
Any type of treatment plan is, of course, based on the patient’s issues and needs. That said, here at PASS, we take a holistic and personalized approach to helping our patients live active, fulfilling lives. That includes diagnosing the source of their issues and pain, looking at their diet and its relationship to their physical condition, and developing non-medicine strategies for treating a patient. That often includes physical therapy, but also developing a personalized exercise regime, massage, or other approach. We view drugs as something to resort to when the patient’s pain is overwhelming and interferes with their daily life. Though it’s not our exclusive focus, much of what we do is focus on patient rehabilitation—from a sports injury, injury from an accident, drug addiction recovery, surgery recovery, etc.
What Is the Difference Between A Physical Therapist and A Physiatrist or Physician?
This is a little harder to define, at least as far as PASS is concerned because we provide concierge medical services through our sister practice Shakthi. That said, generally speaking, physiatrists focus on rehabilitation medicine more than a general practitioner. We also generally focus on musculoskeletal issues related to bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. For patients who experience severe chronic pain, we provide palliative care—also called pain management. And while we might not direct care for health challenges such as cancer, we work hand-in-hand with general practitioners, oncologists, and other specialists to help ensure patients are comfortable.