Rehabilitation physicians are medical doctors who have completed training in the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Some physiatrists have completed dedicated fellowship training in the area of non-surgical spine care. These physiatric spine specialists can offer the full spectrum of non-surgical spine care, from diagnosis to treatment, including the use of spinal injection procedures when indicated.
Specifically, rehabilitation physicians:
The job of a rehabilitation physician is to treat any disability resulting from disease or injury, from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. The focus is on the development of a comprehensive program for putting the pieces of a person's life back together after injury or disease – without surgery.
Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous system. Neurological practice relies heavily on the field of neuroscience, which is the scientific study of the nervous system.
A neurologist is a physician specializing in neurology and trained to investigate, or diagnose and treat neurological disorders. Neurologists may also be involved in clinical research, clinical trials, and basic or translational research. While neurology is a non-surgical specialty, its corresponding surgical specialty is neurosurgery.
Many neurologists also have additional training or interest in one area of neurology, such as stroke, epilepsy, neuromuscular, sleep medicine, pain management, or movement disorders.
The role of the rheumatologist is to diagnose, treat and medically manage patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. These health problems affect the joints, muscles, bones and sometimes other internal organs. Because these diseases are often complex, they benefit from the care of an expert. Only rheumatologists are experts in this field of medicine. The rheumatologist interacts with the patient and family, gives health information and partners with other health care providers.
What Does a Rheumatologist Do?
The rheumatologist assesses:
A rheumatologist aims to help patients with rheumatic disease to have the best possible quality of life. Toward this aim, rheumatologists advocate for the patient in all aspects of health care and in the community.
An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons.
While orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, hand, shoulder and elbow, spine, hip or knee. Orthopaedic surgeons may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma, reconstructive surgery, oncology (bone tumors) or sports medicine.
Orthopaedic surgeons treat patients of all ages – newborns, children, athletes, baby boomers and the elderly – with conditions that range from bone and joint disorders and fractures to diseases or tears of the muscles, ligaments and tendons in all regions of the body.
An orthopaedic surgeon treats many musculoskeletal conditions without surgery, by using medications, exercise and other rehabilitative or alternative therapies. If necessary, he/she may also recommend surgical treatment if the patient does not respond to other treatments.
Some of the conditions and diseases an orthopaedic surgeon treats include:
Neurosurgery (or neurological surgery) is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.
General neurosurgery involves most neurosurgical conditions including neuro-trauma and other neuro-emergencies such as intracranial hemorrhage.
Specialized branches have developed to cater to special and difficult conditions. These specialized branches co-exist with general neurosurgery in more sophisticated hospitals. To practice these higher specialization within neurosurgery, additional higher fellowship training of 1–2 years is expected from the neurosurgeon.
Some of these divisions of neurosurgery are:
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body's natural restorative function. This is accomplished by inserting extremely thin, often painless, one time use, disposable needles and applying heat or gentle electrical stimulation at precise points in the body.
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in patterns through our bodies and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
Modern acupuncture blends together this ancient system of acupuncture with western medical science, utilizing knowledge of functional anatomy, movement, and what we now know about our bodies nervous system. Ancient concepts of moving Qi (energy) and blood are seen in western modern medicine all the time by increasing the flow of blood and restoring function to areas in our body where pain exists and decreasing inflammation and pain.
Simply put the "needle affect" can be described as increasing blood flow and oxygen to a targeted area. An expert practitioner knows where to increase blood flow in order to decrease pain and restore function. Needling acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals can change the way we experience pain. Improved energy and biochemical balance are how acupuncturists characterize restoring the balance of yin and yang. When these two essential energies are harmonized, healing, health and vitality in the body begins.
Acupuncture treatments strive to help the body’s internal organs correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, energy production, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both as the need arises, to treat an illness.
Acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:
Physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.
Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
Physical therapy is a dynamic profession with an established theoretical and scientific base and widespread clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function.
For more than 750,000 people every day in the United States, physical therapists:
Every day in hospitals, medical centers, ambulatory surgery centers and physicians’ offices across the nation, physician anesthesiologists provide the highest quality, safest anesthesia care to patients facing surgery or seeking relief from pain.
Pain management physicians complete four years of medical school and further training in a specialty, such as anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry or neurology, followed by an additional year of training to become an expert in chronic pain. Be sure your specialist is certified in a pain medicine subspecialty by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, such as the American Board of Anesthesiology. While you may know that physician anesthesiologists manage pain before, during and after surgery, you may not realize that some specialize in managing chronic pain. In fact, decades of research by physician anesthesiologists have led to the development of more effective treatments for chronic pain. This specialized training and expertise is essential since the spine and nerves that register pain are delicate and everyone’s anatomy and pain tolerance are different. Pain medicine specialists are also experts in using a wide variety of medications, which can effectively alleviate pain for some patients. The pain medicine specialist will work with you and any other doctors who are treating you, such as your primary care physician, surgeon or oncologist.