Navigating Back Pain Treatments: Can a Physiatrist Help?

01 May 2019

You may have read the title of this article and wondered, “what’s a physiatrist?” The Harvard Medical School defines this line of practice as:

  • Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They focus on holistic, nonsurgical care aimed at improving function for people who are affected by diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. They often lead a team of medical professionals that may include physical therapists and occupational therapists. We collaborate with other physicians, such as primary care doctors, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and others.

Now that the specialty area of medicine has been explained, and next wondered whether or not you need to seek treatment from an “urgent care near me” for the back pain that has placed you in a state of distress. If so, keep reading to learn how 24/7 urgent care or an ER in Houston may be able to help.

Planning for Your Examination

Because practitioners in this area of medicine have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular medicine, they are especially adept at diagnosing sources of back pain. The first thing the physiatrist will do is take a thorough history to perform a comprehensive musculoskeletal and neurological exam. They may order additional tests such as blood work and imaging tests like x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans.

What to Expect in Treatment from a Physiatrist

Your personalized treatment plan will depend on the suspected cause of your back pain. Medications that may be prescribed could include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), non-benzodiazepine muscle relaxants, or acetaminophen. Also, for certain patients experiencing certain types of back pain, treatment with a physical therapist may be recommended.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help with Back Pain

Your physiatrist is adept at diagnosing your back pain and recommending a treatment plan which may include the referral to a physical therapist. This referral will help in specific areas such as correcting poor posture, improving ergonomics at work or home that may be causing your back pain, and stabilizing the lower back by strengthening your core muscles. By providing a combined holistic approach, your physiatrist and physical therapist will collaborate to create a customized treatment plan for your exact needs.