A physiatrist is a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation of the entire body. They care for people with severe musculoskeletal conditions of the spine (such as neck or back pain) and joints (such as shoulder, hip or knee pain). Physiatrists commonly diagnose and treat conditions where patients experience pain without an obvious cause or injury, such as lower back pain. They do not perform surgeries, but they do perform minimally invasive procedures such as injection therapy for people with joint or spine conditions and injuries.
You should consider seeing a physiatrist if you:
Pain, instability, stiffness and weakness can affect anyone – no matter how active you are – and can have many causes. Some people may begin to experience discomfort when they take up a new exercise regimen, such as jogging. Others may develop a repetitive stress injury, in which a part of the body is damaged by overuse. Overuse may be caused by activity such has having to sit for long periods of time while working.
A physiatrist will diagnose your condition by performing a thorough exam and learning about your medical and activity history. In some cases, they may order imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, to help make a diagnosis.
Many musculoskeletal pains and injuries can be treated with nonsurgical treatments such as:
If a physiatrist thinks you may need surgery, they will refer you to the appropriate surgeon.
The physiatry team at HSS works to improve each patient’s quality of life by taking a personalized approach to care. Our experience in orthopedic and musculoskeletal health ranges from dance medicine and conditions common among performers to spinal injuries and concussions that occur during sports. Meet our doctors.