Physiatry Defined

Physiatrists are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move.

A physiatrist is a medical doctor who has also trained in the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Rehabilitation physicians do not perform surgery, but are authorized to:

  • Diagnose and treat pain
  • Restore maximum function lost through injury, illness or disabling conditions
  • Treat the whole person, not just the problem area
  • Lead a team of medical professionals
  • Provide non-surgical treatments
  • Explain your medical problems and treatment/prevention plan

Why Visit a Physiatrist?

A physiatrist can treat any disability resulting from disease or injury, from a sore neck and shoulders to spinal cord injuries, without the invasiveness of surgery.

As a nerve, muscle, and bone expert, a physiatrist will treat musculoskeletal injuries or illnesses related to how you move. By taking the whole body into account, they are able to accurately pinpoint problems and enhance performance. You may consider seeing a physiatrist if any of the following relate to you:

  • You had an accident or you have an injury or chronic condition that has left you with pain or limited function
  • You’re contemplating or recovering from surgery
  • You have an illness or treatment for an illness that has diminished your energy or ability to move easily
  • You’re recovering from the effects of a stroke or other problems related to nerve damage
  • You have chronic pain from arthritis, a repetitive stress injury, or back problems
  • Excess weight makes it difficult to exercise or has caused health problems
  • You think you’re too old to exercise
  • Life changes such as childbirth or menopause have created new challenges to your physical function

What is an Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)?

During medical school D.O.’s have additional courses that focus on the musculoskeletal system and they receive training in osteopathic manipulation techniques to diagnose and treat patients. Like allopathic physicians (M.D.), osteopathic physicians can practice in any specialty of medicine and they must also take and pass board exams and state licensing exams in order to practice medicine. Please visit to learn more!

Rehabilitation physicians take the time needed to accurately pinpoint the source of an ailment. They then design a treatment plan that can be carried out by the patients themselves or with the help of the rehabilitation physician’s medical team. This medical team might include other physicians and health professionals, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists. By providing an appropriate treatment plan, rehabilitation physicians help patients stay as active as possible at any age. Their broad medical expertise allows them to treat disabling conditions throughout a person’s lifetime.