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What Are Physiatrists?

Medical Doctors Focused on Treating Physical Disability


Updated April 22, 2014

What Are Physiatrists?
Photo by Eliza Snow (iStockphoto)

What Are Physiatrists?

A physiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.), certified as a specialist in physical and rehabilitation medicine. Physiatrists (pronounced fizz-ee-at-trists) are certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Goals of a Physiatrist

The goal of the physiatrist is to help a patient restore function and overcome physical limitations. Physiatrists focus on patients dealing with loss of function, disability, and physical impairments which affect daily living

Which Patients Are Treated by Physiatrists?

From private (outpatient) offices, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers, physiatrists treat musculoskeletal conditions and other conditions which cause acute or chronic pain

Conditions that may be treated by a physiatrist include:

Which Treatments Are Recommended or Used by Physiatrists?

Physiatrists recommend and use non-surgical treatment options including:

Physiatrists: Work Alone or Part of a Team?

Physiatrists can serve as coordinators of a team of health care professionals which may include a:

Working together, the team can help the patient achieve pain relief and make gradual improvements in physical function.


American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, aapmr.org

Physiatry 101, Arthritis Today, Nov-Dec 2005

Factsheet 11: Physiatrist, spinalcord.org

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