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Working Through Back Pain: What is a Physiatrist and How Can They Help?

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Back pain is a constant topic in American life. Eighty percent or more of us experience it at one time or another, and it is the second most common reason for doctor visits. Learn what a physiatrist is and how they treat those with back pain.

What is a Physiatrist?

A Physiatrist is a physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. They are experts in the evaluation, treatment and management of the full spectrum of spinal disorders. They are trained to have a clear understanding of how the musculoskeletal system and neurological system work, and use this expertise to help patients regain function after illness or injury.

When Should I see a Physiatrist?

Pain in the back, neck and spine — and functional problems such as reduced mobility and weakness — can make normal daily activities unbearable.  Arm and leg pain, which are sometimes caused by neurological disorders rooted in the back, neck or spine, can also be debilitating. If any of these problems have impacted your life, you may want to consult a physiatrist.

Common conditions physiatrists treat include low back pain, neck pain, chronic back pain, spinal stenosis, spine fracture management and complicated spinal disorders.

Finding the Cause of Your Pain

To identify the cause of your pain, a physiatrist will first discuss your problem in detail and how it has changed your quality of life. He or she will do a thorough physical examination, review your complete medical history and take a fresh look at your diagnostic studies (MRI, X-ray or CT scan).

Developing a Personalized Treatment Plan

Once a diagnosis is made and your team understands your goals for treatment, a physiatrist will develop a personalized treatment plan for you. The NEBH Spine Center believes that educating patients improves outcomes. That is why every patient is fully educated about the natural history, prognosis and treatment options available for their specific problem as well as given practical expert advice on the management of their symptoms.

NEBH has found that 90% of the patients who visit the Spine Center do not need surgery.  These patients take advantage of our expertise and research in non-surgical treatment methods, including our internationally recognized exercise-based physical therapy program, called “boot camp”. For the 10% of patients who need surgery, referrals are made to the very best experts in spinal surgery.

If you would like make an appointment with a physiatrist, click here or call 617-754-5246. To learn more about back pain and treatment options, visit the NEBH video education portal

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